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Full text of "The history of fashion in France, or, The dress of women from the Gallo-Roman period to the present time"

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S C R I R N E R A N IJ \V K L I' O k 1 J. 



ST. John's square. 



Various definitions of fashion — The grave side of its history — Quotations from the 
poets — Character of Frenchwomen — The refinement of their tastes and fancies — ■ 
Paris the temple of fashion — The provinces ^Mdlle. Mars' yellow gown— The 
causes of fashion — A saying of Mme. de Girardin's — A remark of Mrs. TroUope's — 
The dress of actresses— Earliest theories of fashion— The Gyna;ceum of Amman — 
First appearance of the "Journal des Dames et des Modes "—Lamesangere — 
Other pubhcations — An anecdote concerning dolls— Plan of the History of 

Fashion in France 



Gallic period— Woad, or the pastel— Tunics and boulgetes — "Mavors"and "Palla" 
— Cleanliness of the GaUic women -The froth of beer or "kourou" — The women 
of Marseilles; their marriage-portions — Gallo-Roman period — The Roman 
garment — The " stola " — Refinement of elegance — Extravagant luxury of women — 
Artificial aids — A " vestiaire" or wardrobe-room of the period — Shoes — ^Jewels and 
ornaments— The amber and crj'stal ball— Influence of the barbarians . . -13 



Modifications in female dress after the Invasion of the Franks — Customs of the latter — 
The Merovingians — Costumes of skins and felt ; cloaks and camlets — The coif, the 
veil, the skull-cap, the " guimpe," the cape — Fashionable Merovingian ladies adorn 
themselves with flowers — Various articles of dress— The "suint" — Young girls 
dress their hair without omamenis — St. Radegonde— The hair of married women . 21 



Reign of Charlemagne — The women of the tenth century wear two tunics — Judith's 
belt — A veil is obligatory — Miniatures in the Mazarin Librai-y- Charles the Bald's 
Bible — Shoes — Dress of Queen Eutgarde — Dress of Rotrude and Bertha — Gisla 
and other kinswomen of the Emperor — The successors of Charlemagne— Cannes — 
Adelaide of Vermandois — The dress of widows 25 





Earliest times of the Carlovingian period —Variety of costume in (lie provinces — 
Fashions in the Duchy of France —French taste dating from tlie eleventh century 
— Luxury increases with each generation — The dominical — The "bliaud " — Canes 
of apple-wood — Women in the twelfth century — Head-dresses — "Afiche" — 
Serpent-tails — Pelisses — The thirteenth century — " Greves " and veils are in 
fashion — The "couvre-chef " in the fourteenth century — The skirt, or " cotte- 
hardie," surcoat, or overall, or overskirt, cape, trained skirt, and " gauzape " — 
Accessories — Emblazoned gowns — Various kinds of stuffs . . . . .31 



Severity of feminine costume — Long gowns and gnii»f(s — Marguerite of Provence— 
"Fermaux" — Reappearance of splendour in dress— Eastern customs— The priests 
of fashion — Haberdasheiy and peacock-feathers — Female embroiderers — Taste for 
embroidery — Continual temptations —Earliest sumptuary laws — Furs — St. Louis's 
opinion on dress —Prohibitions by Philippe le Bel ; speech made by his wife — 
Cr^pine -jo 



The States of Languedoc— A young French lady in the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries— Low dresses— Saying of a mercer — DamoiscUes—GarnacIus and garde - 
corps — Le Paremetit des dames — Social distinctions— High character is worth more 
than gilded belt— Precious stones— The castles and other dwellings of the Middle 
Ages — Splendid furniture— Humble abodes of the poor — Evening assemblies . 45 



Taste in dress becomes purer— Heart-shaped head-coverings, the "comette," and the 
"hennin " in the reign of Charles VL— Husbands complain— Preachers denounce 
— Thomas Connecte declaims against the diabolic invention— Brother Richard 
tries to reform it— The "hennin" gains the victory— Costume of Jeanne de 
Bourbon— "Escoffion"— An absurd figure— Gravou^re-Isabeau de Baviere— 
Gorgiasetes— Tripes— Splendour of the court— Agnes Sorel— "Coiffe adoum^e ;" 
diamonds ; the carcan— Walking-sticks ri 



Duchesses and bourgeoises under Louis XL— "La grand'gorre," or sumptuosity— 
The " troussoire "—Allegorical and moral costumes— Trains— Head-dresses— 
"Collets rebrass^s"— Wigs and false hair— Some results of the war in Italy- 
Italian fashions—" Sollerets " and slippers— Gorgets— Garters— Jean Marot writes 
against novelties— Anne of Brittany— Pins— Menot " the golden-tongued "—A 
Parisian in the time of Louis XII.— Coat 4 I'ltalienne— Manufacture of stuffs . 61 





The court of Francis I. — A speech of Charles V.— The king's liberality— Order of the 
Cordeliere — Word-paintings of the fashions of the day, by Rabelais — Costumes of 
the seasons — Feather-fans — Sunshades — The "hoche-plis" or vertugadin— Mme. 
de Tressan saves her cousin's life — Satires and songs — Mdlle. de Lacepede — 
" Contenances " — Silk shoes with slashes — Head-dress called a " passe-filon " — 
Increase of love of dress — The bean- flower — Artistic head-dresses — T«ists of hair 
called ratraprenades — Ferronieres — Coaches in Paris ; their influence on the 
fashions ...........••• 7' 



Fashions under Henri H. — The ruff— A satirical print of the time— Catherine de 
Medicis eats soup— The Italian taste — Regulations for dress— Crimson— Who 
shall wear silk? — Lines on velvet, by Ronsard — Rotonde — "Collet monte" — 
Spring-water — Style of gowns and head-dresses — Wired sleeves— Girdles— Caps, 
bonnets, and hoods— The " touret de nez" — The " coffin a roupies"— Shoes — 
A quotation from Rabelais 8' 



The earliest queens of fashion— Mary Stuart's costumes ; her jewels— Description of 
bodices and sleeves of that period— Crosses — The "loup" or small mask — 
Coiffure "en raquette"— An anecdote concerning high heels— Regulations re- 
specting fashion — Remark of a lady of cur own day on distinctions in dress — 
Exordium of the Edict of July I2, 1549— M.iximum of marriage portions— The 
first knitted silk stockings . Sg 



The wars of religion— The fashions of Italy are brought across the Alps, and are 
welcomed in France — Effects of the expeditions into Italy — Articles from Venice 
and Genoa are very fashionable — A cloud of sugar-plums, and a shower of scents — 
Effeminate style of dress— Charles IX. and his Edicts against extravagant display 
— Fashion rebels against sumptuary laws— Women of high rank, bourgeoises, 
widows, and spinsters — Wedding dresses — Observations of a Venetian ambassador 
— " Corps pique "—Drawers — Paint— Cosmetics— Breast mirrors, girdle mirrors — 
Court dresses—" Arcelets " 95 



Opposition to the laws of King Henri III. on dress — The wife of President N . 

—How both sexes evaded the edicts — Gowns from Milan— Mixture of masculine 
and feminine fashions — Rage for perfumes— Recognition of rank is demanded — 
Costumes worn at Cognac by Marguerite de Valois in presence of the Polish 
ambassadors, and her costume at Blois — Brantome's opinion— Pointed bodices, 
puffed-out sleeves, and "bourrelets" — Remarks on hair— Ridiculous dress of 
men— Poucet, the preacher— Satirical lines on Joyeuse— Witty remark of Pierre 
de I'Estoile— Starch used by Henri III.— Cushions 103 

a 2 





Universal mourning on the death of the Guises ; intolerance of showy dress — 
Vertugadins, "espoitrement," "corps espagnole" — Diversity of colours — The 
pearls, jewels, and diamonds belonging to Gabrie'lle d'Estrees and to the queen — 
Dress of Marguerite de France — Low-cut bodices — Head-dresses of hair — Various 
styles — Venetian slippers — Edicts of Louis XIL — Caricatures : " Pompe fimebre 
de la Mode" — Words and fashions — Ribbons or "galants" — Dress of widows — 
"Demi-ceint" girdles — Gloves of all sorts — Patches — Masks ; their use — " Cache- 
laid" — The Frondeuses — Mme. de Longueville 113 



Louis XIV. commands— Court lu.xury and pleasure; disguises — The Temple jewellery 
— Fashion and etiquette — Successive fashions — Royal edicts — The " Tombeau du 
sens commun" — Dress of La Valliere — Of Mme. de Montespan— Costume of a 
ladyof rank in 166S — The "echelles de Mme. de la Reynie " — "Transparencies" 
— Manufactures — Champagne, the hair-dresser — Female hair-dressers— " Hurlu- 
berlus" and Mme. de Sevigne— Moustaches for women; patches — Palatines- 
Slippers; high heels — Corsets; fans; sweet lemons — Dog-muffs— Hair dressed 
"k la Fontanges" — English style of dressing hair — "Esther" — Steinkerks — 
" Cremonas " — " Amadis " and Jansenist sleeves— Hair dressed "a I'effrontee " — 
Dresses of the Duchesse de Bourgogne — Mignardiscs 125 



Painted faces — Reply of a Turkish ambassador— Ineffectual criticism — Mme. Turcaret's 
" pretintailles " — Mme. Bonnet's law-suit — Brocaded materials — "Andriennes" — 
"Criardes" — Return of "hoops" and paniers — A sailor's leap — Actresses' 
paniers, and the Greek head-dress — Mme. de Letorieres — D'Hele arrives frozen 
at the Cafe Procope — Waterproofs — Finishing touches — Fans and fan-makers in 
the seventeenth century — What Mme. de Stael-Holstcin thought of fans — Transition 143 



The Regency — War is declared against paniers — The Oratorian Duguet— Opinion of 
the "Journal de Verdun" — Various publications against paniers — Lines by 
Voltaire — Whale-fisheiy company — I'aragraph from the "Journal de Barbier " — 
Mmes. Jaucourt, De Seine, Delisle, Clairon,and Hus — Lines in praise of corsets — 
New bodices — Coloured prints are forbidden — " Perses " or "Persiennes" — 
Bagnolette — Adjuncts of dress : necklaces, ridicules, and poupottes — Contents of a 
patch-box — A sermon by Massillon — " Les mouches de Massillon," or Massillon's 
patches — " Filles de Mode, " or Fashion-girls — Some passing fashions — Powder 
remains in fashion — " Monte-au-ciel " — Simply made gowns— The first cachemire 151 



The influence of Marie Antoinette on fashion— Letter from Maria Theresa— Leonard 
and Mdlle. Berlin — Various styles of head-dresses — "Pouf" — The "Journal de 
Paris"— Reign of Louis XVI. — Male and female hair-dressers — Plumes — Hair 


worn low — The queen's " puce "-coloured gown ; shades of colour in dresses — 
Oberkampf and the Jouy prints— Expensive satins— Trimmirgs, their great number 
and importance— Gauze, blond, tulle, and ribbons — Some kinds of shoes — Venez- 
y.voir — The " Archduchess " ribbons — A dress worn at the opera . . .161 



Peasant dress is universal— Fashion "a la Marlborough"— Caps— Bonnets— Mdlles. 
Fredin and Quentin— Ruches— Low bodices ; " postiches "—Costume of Contat- 
Suzanne- Fashions "a la Figaro"— Literature and politics signified in dress; the 
Princess de Monaco's pouf— Pouf " a la circonstance ;" the " inoculation " pouf- 
The " innocence made manifest " caraco — The " harpy " costume— Coats, cravats, 
and waistcoats— Sailor jackets and " pierrots "—Deshabilles ; " the lying fichu "— 
Etiquette in dress— Seasonable costumes— The queen's card-table— State of trade 
in Paris, «;ra 1787— " Pinceauteuses," or female colourers 171 



The year 1789— Masculine style of dress— The double dress vanishes — Caps "a la 
grande pretresse," " a la pierrot," and " a la laitiere— The " pouf" bonnet - Paint 
and powder disappear— Prediction by the Cabinet des il/ofltj— Anonymous caps- 
Cap "a la Charlotte Corday "—Trinkets "a la Bastille"— Mme. de Genlis' 
locket — Cap " a la Bastille "—Federal uniforms — Claims to equality in dress- 
Reaction under the Directory — "Incroyables" and " merveilleuses "—Coiffures 
"a la victime" and "a la Titus"— Blond wigs and black wigs -The Hotel 
Thelusson— Which is the most ridiculous ?— Mme. Tallien's costume— Epigram 
on bonnets "a la foUe "—Reticules— Transparent dresses -Lines by Despreau.x. 179 



Fashions under the Empire-Sacks— "Personnes cossues"— A saying of Napoleon's— 
White gowns — Valenciennes lace — Ball dresses ; walking dresses — Polish 
"toquels" and bonnets— Turbans— Muslins— Artificial flowers— W'enzel's manu- 
factory; "The Offspring of Imposture," Campenon's verses— Parisian ladies, as 
sketched by Horace Vemet— Stays— Cashmeres— Protest by Piis— Ternaux assists 
in establishing the manufacture of cashmere shawls in France— Cotton stuffs — 
Richard Lenoir ; importance of the Rouen manufacture — Violets during the 
Hundred Days— The "eighteen folds," and white silk 191 



Importation of foreign fashions in 1815— White dresses, white feathers, and fleurs 
de lys— Emigrant ladies— Russian toques — Male and female dressmakers — 
Ruchings— Short sleeves and long gloves— Herbault's bonnets—" Chefs "—Anglo- 
mania in 1815— Green gauze veils; spencers— The " canezou"— Lacroix, the 
stay-maker— Dr. Pelletan and Charles X.— Wasps— The " Ourika " fashions— 
The famous leg-of-mutton sleeves — Fashions "a I'lpsiboe," "au Trocadero," 
and "ila Dame Blanche" — Blonde caps and turbans— Head-dresses— Fashions 
" a la giraffe ;" " the last sigh of Jocko " — Female book-keepers 1 shopwomen— 
The Cafe des Mille-Colonnes >y7 





The Revolution of July, 1830 — Fashions in Louis Philippe's reign— Microscopical 
bonnets, called " bibis," "cabriolets" — Variety of caps— Fashions of the Middle 
Ages and of the Renaissance — The stage — Historic costumes — Influence of 
Rachel, the actress — Greek and Roman fashions — Colours — Various designations 
of materials — Bedouin sleeves — Bonnets and head-dresses — Pamela bonnets — 
Novel eccentricities — Taglioni gowns, gathered "i la Vierge," laced " i la 
Niobe," &c. — The " Sylvestrine " — Costumes to be worn on occasions of attempts 
on the king's life— Bouquets for balls 205 



Tricoloured stuffs of 1848 — Girondin mantles — Open gowns — Summer dresses — Kasa- 
wecks and their derivatives — Beaver bonnets ; velvet bonnets, and satin or crape 
drawn bonnets — Cloches, Cornelie, Moldavian, and Josephine cloaks ; mantles — 
Isly green — Opera cloaks — Numerous styles of dressing the hair ; a la Marie 
Stuart, a la Valois, Leda, Proserpine, and Ceres — Marquise parasols — Jewellery — 
Straw bonnets — " Orleans" and "annure" — Work reticule or bag — " Chines" — 
Pagoda sleeves — Waistcoats; b.''sque bodices — New and economical canezous . 213 



Ready-made mantles — Talmas, mousquetaires, and rotondes — The Second Empire ; 
reminiscences of the reign of Napoleon I. — Marriage of Napoleon III.; dress of 
the new Empress ; her hair dressed by Felix Escalier ; court mantle and train — 
Four kinds of dress — Opera dress in 1853-4 — Bodices "a la Vierge," Pompadour 
bodices, and Watteau bodices — Skirt trimmings — A new colour, "Theba" — 
Light tints — Social and theatrical celebrities — The Eugenie head-dress and 
Mainnier bands — End of the first period of Imperial fashions .... 221 



Crinoline inaugurates the second era of Imperial fashions — The reign of crinoline — 
.Starched petticoats — Whaleboned petticoats — Steel hoops — Two camps are 
formed, one in favour of, and one inimic.1l to crinoline — Large collars — Marie 
Antoinette fichus and mantles — Exhibition of 1855 — Cashmere shawls — Pure 
cashmeres — Indian cashmere shawls — Indian woollen shawls — " Mouzaia" 
shawls — Algerian burnouses — Pompadour parasols — Straight parasols — School for 
fans — The fan drill — TTie Queen of Oude's fans — The Charlotte Corday fichu . 227 



Sea.bathing and watering-places — Special costumes — Travelling-bags — Hoods and 
woollen shawls — Convenient style of dress — Kid and satin boots ; high heels — 
Introduction of the " several" and the " Ristori" — Expensive pocket-handkerchiefs 
— Waists are worn shorter— Zouave, Turkish, and Greek jackets — Bonnet fronts 
— Gold trimmings universally used — Tarlatane, tulle, and lace .... 233 





Fashions in iS63 and 1861 — Jewellery — Shape of "Russian" bonnets — Nomen- 
clature of girdles — Different styles of dressing the hair — The " Ceres " wreath — 
Flowers and leaves for the hair — Prohibition of green materials— Anecdotes from 
the Union Midicale and the younial de la Nievre — Cloth and silk mantles — Braid 
and astrakan —Four types of bonnet — Morning bonnet —Artificial flowers . .237 



Sunshades,, mrlis, in 1862 — Sailors' jackets, jerseys, and pilot-jackets — 
Princess or demi-princess gowns; Swiss bodices; corset or postillion belts — Lydia 
and Lalla Rookh jackets ; Vespertina opera cloaks — " Lungchamps is no more " — 
Bois de Boulogne — Russian or Garibaldi bodices — Paletot vest — Empress belt — 
1885 patents for inventions regarding dress are taken out in 1864 — Victoria 
skeleton skirts, Indian stays, train-supporters — " Titian "-coloured hair — The 
Peplum in 1866 — Epicycloide steels ; aquarium earrings — Description of a court 
ball-dress — The fashions of Louis XV., Louis XVL, and the Empire are revived 
— Sedan chairs — Handkerchiefs at all prices 241 



Five different styles of dressing the hair in 1868 and 1S69 — Petit catogan; three triple 
bandeaus — The hair is worn loose — Dress of the Duchess de Mouchy — Refine- 
ments of fashion — Various journals — New shades — Crinoline is attacked ; it 
resists ; it succumbs — Chinese fashions 247 



The years 1870 and 187 1 — The siege of Paris — General mourning — Simplicity and 
economy — Parisian velvet and pekin — A concert costume — A cloth costume — 
Alsatian bows and costumes — Soirees at the Presidency — Marie Stuart and 
Michael Angelo bonnets — " Hunting stockings " — Rabagas hats — The years 1872 
and 1873 — Fan parasols — "Leopold Robert" bonnets — The year 1873 — Return 
of luxury — "Regent" belts and "sovereign" dress-improvers — Silks — "Mode- 
rate" costumes — The burning of the Opera House — Sale on behalf of those made 
orphans by the war — The ball for the Lyons weavers — Cashmere tunics — Dislike 
to gloves — Petticoats — Charles IX. shoes — Slippers — The year 1874 — "Pa<Je" 
bonnets and " Margot " hats — Hair in the Swiss style ; false hair — The ball given 
by the Chamber of Commerce — Green — ^Jet — Various costumes — Hair-dressing — 
" Mercury " bonnets ............ 251 



Dinner, casino, and ball dresses in 1875 — Importation of false hair — Manufacture in 
France — Modification of waterproofs — " Estelle" bonnets — Tunic-aprons — Cuirass- 
bodices — "Montespan " sleeves — " Sant-du-lit " — Shoes of past limes — " Bonne- 
femme" pockets — Henri III. plumes — "Inez" veils — Ribbons and flowers — 
Heavy style of dress — "Pouf" petticoats — Composite fashions of 1876— Armenian 



toques — " Ophelia " bonnets ; " Danichef" bonnets — MJlle. Bettina Rotlischild's 
wedding trousseau — A splendid parasol — Gondolier hair-nets — "Baby" sashes 
and " Baby" bonnets — " Fontanges" fichus — " Platitudes" — Red, as a colour — 
Pockets of various kinds — Majestic appendages — Princess dresses — Bouquets on 
the bodices — Hair dressed in the Greek style — A thousand curls — Breton style — 
Organ-pipe frills — Coat-bodices — Trinkets in black and silver .... 263 



The International Exhibition of 1878 — Foreign countries — ^Japanese fans — The little 
lace-makers of Peniche — Retrospective exhibition of costume in France — Con- 
siderations sur Ic VClcmeiit dis Femmes, by M. Charles Blanc — Historical Exhibition 
at the Trocadero — Comprehensive glance at the curiosities of that exhibition — 
• "The Movement" in 1879 — " Merveilleuse," "Niniche," and other bonnets — 
Plush — Gown-stuff at a hundred francs the yard — Scarfs, casaques, and various 
bodices — Madras costumes — Under-clothing ; chemise-corsets, morning gowns — 
Housewife fans; fan-holders — Trinkets — New materials — Visiles ; jackets ; bows; 
neckties — The year 1880 — "Cabriolet" bonnets; " passe-montagnes " — The 
pilgrim costume — Satins — Favourite colours — Vests — Art buttons — Bulgarian cos- 
tumes — Jerseys — Scented gloves — Flowers in profusion ; a bridal bouquet — 
Midshipman bonnets — Nordenskiold — Dust cloaks — Revolution in bonnets — Art 
and fashion — " Porte-veines" 277 

Conclusion 2S9 






Various definitions of fashion — The grave side of its history — Quotations from the poets — 
Character of Frenchwomen — The refinement of their tastes and fancies — Paris the 
temple of fashion — The provinces — MUe. Mars' yellow gown— The causes of fashion — 
A saying of Mme. de Girardin's — A remark of Mrs. Trollope's— The dress of actresses — 
Earliest theories of fashion— The Gynseceum of Amman — First appearance of the 
"Journal des Dames et des Modes " — Lamesangere — Other publications — An anecdote 
concerning dolls— Plan of the History of Fashion in France. 

Fashion is the expositor, from the standpoint of costume, of our 
habits and our social relations ; in a word, of everything appertaining 
to the charm of life. 

Therefore to write the history of female fashion in France is a 
more serious task than it might seem to be at the first glance. 
The levity of the subject is mastered by its moral interest. 
Montesquieu remarks, in his " Lettres Persanes," " A certain lady 
takes it into her head that she must appear at an assembly in a 
particular costume ; from that moment fifty artisans have to go 
without sleep, or leisure either to eat or drink. She commands, 
and is obeyed more promptly than a Shah of Persia, because self- 
interest is the mightiest ruler upon the earth." 

Far from serving only as a source of frivolous talk, even when 
it is specially concerned with our dress and ornamentation, the 
subject of fashion, it has been wisely observed, has its value as a 



moral sign-post, and supplies the historian, the philosopher, and 
the novelist with a guide to the prevailing ideas of the time. 

Fashion, in fact, acts as a sort of thermometer of the infinitely- 
various tastes of the day, which are influenced by many external 
circumstances. It is the continuous development of clothing in 
its thousand varying forms, in its most striking improvements, in 
its most graceful or most whimsical fancies. The type of dress 
scarcely clianges within the limits of a century ; but its adjuncts 
and characteristics vary frequently every year. 

To the proverb, " Tell me your friends, and 1 will tell you who 
you are," might we not add, after serious reflection, " Tell me 
how such a person dresses, and I will tell you her character ".'' 

Numerous poets have defined Fashion, and for the most part 

petulantly and disdainfully. One of them says, — 

" La mode est un tyran, des mortals respecte, 
Digne enfant du degout et de la nouveaute."' 

Another adds, — 

" Las modes sont certains usages 
Suivis das fous, et quelquefois des sages, 
Que le caprice invente et qu'approuve I'amour." " 

A third remarks with truth, and less severity, — 

" Le sage n'est jamais le premier k les suivre, 
Ni le dernier h. les quitter." ' 

And La Bruyere asserts that " it shows as much weakness to fly 

from Fashion as to follow it closely." We must not limit the 

causes of Fashion to three only, — love of change, the influence of 

those with whom we live and the desire of pleasing them, and 

the interests of traders in the transient reign of objects of luxury, 

so that their place may be supplied with fresh novelties. There 

remains to be pointed out a fourth and nobler cause ; it is the 

frequently though not always successful desire to improve the art of 

dress, to increase its charm, and to advance its progress. 

' " Fashion is a tyrant, respected by mortals ; 
The fitting offspring of distaste and novelty." 

- " Fashions are certain usages, invented by caprice, and approved by love, 
which fools, and sometimes the wise, observe." 

' "The wise man is never the first to follow, nor the last to abandon them." 


We do not undertake to relate the history of fashion in male 
attire, albeit its variations and singularities are by no means less 
numerous and remarkable than those of the history of fashion for 
women, which in every age has proved itself both powerful and 

We must restrict ourselves to the garments worn by women in 
each succeeding age, and indeed we must confine ourselves to 
France alone, if we would achieve as complete a picture as possible 
of the transformations in female dress from the time of the Gauls 
to the day on which we shall have accomplished our task. 

Grace, vivacity, and, we must add, caprice, are the distinguishing 
characteristics of Frenchwomen. With some very few exceptions 
we shall find the qualities or the failings of our charming country- 
women reproduced in their mode of dress. Be she a peasant or a 
dweller in cities, a working woman or a duchess, every French- 
woman in town or country reveals herself frankly by the clothes 
she wears. Her innate desire to please makes her especially object 
to wear garments of any one particular fashion for long. She is 
ingenious in devising countless novel accessories to her dress, and 
adding to its effect. She adorns herself with embroidery, with lace, 
and with jewels, and, if need be, with flowers, that she may be 
irresistibly attractive. 

A Frenchwoman endeavours to supplement those gifts bestowed 
upon her by nature by the refinements of the toilet. She maintains 
that fashion is never ridiculous, because good sense is never wanting 
in France to curb extravagance, and good taste will ever preserve 
the harmonious proportions that are an inherent necessity in dress. 

It has been said by a woman of tact and observation, " It is 
perhaps allowable to be sentimental in a sky-blue bonnet, but one 
must not cry in a pink one." 

This remark as to the fitness of dress shows that Frenchwomen 
are properly attentive to the harmony that should exist between the 
moral state of a person and the garments suitable for her wear. 
Mme. Emile de Girardin observes acutely, " There is but one 
way of wearing a beautiful gown, and that is to forget it." 

"Go where you will," wrote (in 1835) ^^^ travelled English- 


woman Mrs. Trollope, " and you see French fashions, but only in 
Paris do you see how they should be worn. . . . The dome of the 
Invalides, the towers of Notre-Dame, the column of the Place 
Vendome, the windmills of Montmartre belong to Paris less 
essentially and less exclusively than the style of a bonnet, a cap, a 
shawl, a curl, or a glove . . . when worn by a Parisian in the city of 

It is therefore perfectly true to say that a history of fashion in 
women's dress in France has a singular likeness to a history of the 
French female character. There exists not a woman, according to 
Mme. de Genlis, who does not possess at least one secret in the 
art of dress, and that secret she is sure to keep to herself. 

In France, the classic land of fancy, the empire of Fashion has 
assuredly been more deeply felt than elsewhere. From time 
immemorial Frenchwomen have altered their fashions each succeed- 
ing day. An eminently French poet was thinking of his country- 
women when he composed the following lines, which sum up all 
that has been said on our present interesting subject : — 

'• II est une d^esse inconstante, incommode, 
Bizarre dans ses goiits, folle en ses ornements, 
Qui parait, fuit, revient, renait en tons les temps ; 
Protc'e ctait son pl*rc et son nom est la Mode." ' 

Now, Proteus the sea-god, in order to escape from questioning 
upon the future, changed his shape at pleasure. 

It might be said that the poet we have just quoted was referring 
to Parisian ladies in particular; but this would be a mistake; for a 
great number of elegant women reside in the provinces, and have 
quite as fervent a devotion to the inconstant goddess as their 
Parisian sisters. In former times Fashion reserved its great efFects 
and its utmost brilliancy for the rich only ; in the present day it 
pervades every rank of society, and exercises its influence even 
over the national costume of the peasant ; for a cotton gown will now 
be cut on the same pattern as a velvet one. 

* " There is a goddess, troublesome, inconstant. 
Strange in her tastes, in her adornments foolish ; 
She appears, she vanishes, she returns at all times and seasons ; 
Proteus was her sire, and ' Fashion ' is her name." 


All Frenchwomen like perpetual change in dress, and foreigners 
follow French fashions almost implicitly. Spanish women only, 
actuated by their national pride, refused for a long time to make 
any change in their costume, yet even they are now beginning to 
dress " a la Francaise." 

At present the type of feminine dress always originates in Paris, 
and spreads thence, throughout France, into the most distant 
regions of Europe, and even into Asia and America. In both 
those countries our fashion-books are widely circulated. " Paris," 
writes a contemporary author, " possesses the undisputed privilege 
of promulgating sumptuary laws for nations. The fashions of 
Paris are and will be the fashions of the world ; that of which 
Paris approves will endure ; that which Paris condemns must 
disappear. But for the good taste and the fickleness of Parisians, 
but for the inventive genius and manual dexterity of their artisans, 
mankind might be clothed indeed, but never dressed." 

And what of womankind ? Where is the Frenchwoman, the 
Englishwoman, the Italian, the German, or the Russian, who does 
not require her milliner to make her a bonnet on the pattern of 
those which emanate from a Parisian ' atelier ' ? " France," as 
Victor Hugo has said, "will always be in fashion in Europe." 
Those nations who are least in sympathy with her accept and 
observe her laws on elegance and ' ton.' 

This can be proved by figures. The exportation of articles of 
fashion manufactured in France reaches a very high figure ; our 
importations of foreign goods of the same kind are, on the contrary, 
quite insignificant. 

The word " fashion " seems to convey to young people an 
almost absolute sense of novelty. Yet are there distinctions. 
There is new and new, just as, according to Moliere, there are 
" fagots " and " fagots." That which is new to-day may be but a 
revival of what is old, a reminiscence of the past. The axiom, 
" There is nothing new under the sun," applies with special force 
to Fashion. 

What ! nothing new ? No, absolutely nothing. Who knows 
whether the pretty trifles, the " mouches " worn by women at the 


present day, are not a reproduction or at any rate an imitation of 
similar adornments once worn by tlie Egyptians, the Greeks, the 
Romans, or the Gauls ? 

The ruffs which are so generally worn at present were in fashion 
in the time of Henri III. They were then an adjunct to masculine 
dress ; they hold their place now in a lady's wardrobe. 

As we study the history of the variations of Fashion in France 
alone, we perceive that feminine fancy describes an endless circle ; 
that a particular garment is readily cast aside just in proportion as 
it has been eagerly adopted ; that supreme, unjust, and unreasonable 
contempt succeeds to irresistible attraction. 

Fashion changes her idols at times with such rapidity, that one 
might exclaim with reference to female dress, — 

"Je n'ai fait que passer, il nMtait dej^ plus!" 

It frequently happens that the general public will adopt any 
costume, however eccentric, which has been worn by a 
celebrated person. That which seemed hideous before the whim 
of a celebrity induced her to appear in it, becomes the height of 
fashion immediately afterwards. 

We may quote as an instance of this an anecdote that appears 
in the " Indiscretions et Confidences " of Audebert, a work published 
a few years ago. 

Mile. Mars was giving some performances at Lyons, and was 
not a little astonished, on the day after her first appearance, to 
receive a morning visit from one of the principal manufacturers 
in that city. 

" Mademoiselle," said he, " I hope you will pardon the motive 
of my visit ; you can make my fortune." 

" I, monsieur .'' I should be delighted, but pray tell me how ? " 

" By accepting this piece of velvet." 

So saying, he spread out on the table several yards of yellow 
terry velvet. Mile. Mars began to think she was being " inter- 
viewed " by a madman. 

" Mon Dieu ! " she exclaimed in an agitated voice, " what do you 
wish me to do with that velvet ? " 

" To have a gown made of it, mademoiselle. When once you 


have been seen in it, everybody vi^ill wear it, and my fortune will 
be made." 

" But nobody has ever worn a yellow gown." 

" Exactly so ; the point is to set the fashion. Do not refuse 
me, I implore you." 

"No, monsieur, I will not refuse you," replied Mile. Mars. 
And she moved towards a writing-table on which lay her purse. 

" Mademoiselle will not affront me by offering payment. All 
I ask is that mademoiselle will have the goodness to give the 
address of my factory, which I may say stands high in reputa- 

Mile. Mars promised, and was delighted to be rid of her visitor. 
On her return to Paris she saw her dressmaker, and in the course 
of conversation said, " By-the-bye, I must show you a piece of 
terry velvet that I have brought back from Lyons ; you nuist tell 
me how it can be used." 

" It is of beautiful quality — quite superfine. But what is to be 
done with it? " 

" It was given to me for a gown." 

" A yellow gown ! I never sent one out in my life ! " 

" Well, then, suppose we make the experiment." 

" Madame can venture on anything." 

A few days later. Mile. Mars, who had gone early to the 
theatre, put on the yellow terry velvet gown. When her toilet 
was finished, she inspected herself in the glass from every point of 
view, and exclaimed, — 

"It is impossible for me to appear on the stage in such a 

gown ! " 

Vainly did the manager, vainly did her fellow-actors implore 
her not to ruin the performance by refusing to appear. Mile. 
Mars was obstinate. " She would not," she declared, " look like 
a canary bird." At length Talma succeeded in persuading her 
that her dress was in perfect taste, and eminently becoming. 

Convinced by his arguments. Mile. Mars at length ventured, 
though with some misgiving, on the stage, where she was 
received with a murmur of admiration. All the ladies inspected 


her through their opera-glasses ; there was loud applause, and 
"What a charming gown !" was uttered on all sides. 

The next day all Paris was ringing with Mile. Mars' yellow 
gown, and the week was hardly over before a similar one was to 
be seen in every drawing-room. Dressmakers were overwhelmed 
with work, and from that day yellow has held its own among the 
colours considered as the right thing for gowns. 

A few years later Mile. Mars revisited Lyons ; the manufacturer, 
whose fortune she had made, gave a splendid fete in her honour, 
at his charming country house on the banks of the Saone. He 
had paid for the mansion out of the profits arising from the 
enormous sale of yellow terry velvet. 

How often since Mile. Mars' time have actresses decisively 
set the fashion in dress ! The Theatre-Fran^ais, the Gymnase, 
and the Vaudeville have been, as it were, exhibitions, where the 
feminine world has taken lessons in dress. Who does not recollect 
Sardou's comedy, " La Famille Benoiton," in which for several 
years there was a continuous show of eccentric costumes ? 

It must be admitted that actresses, who charni by their genius, 
their gestures, and their diction, confer on costume all the expres- 
sion of which it is capable, and lend a significance all their own to 
the achievements of the mantua-maker. 

Is it enough to be brilliantly attired ? to be remarkable for 
eccentricities in dress ? to display costumes of the most fantastic 
kinds.? Certainly not. Besides these things the wearer must 
know how to make the very most of her attire. Fashion and 
coquetry are twins. It matters not how far we may look back 
into antiquity, among the Egyptians, the nations of the East, the 
Greeks, the Romans, or the inhabitants of Gaul, we shall always 
find these two sisters linked together, giving each other mutual 
help, and adapting themselves to the climate, to the peculiarities 
of the soil, and to the passions of the inhabitants. 

From earliest childhood our French girls are trained in coquetry 
by their own parents, innocently enough no doubt, but still such 
training is not without its dangers. 

" Louise," says a mother to her little daughter, " if you are a 


good child you shall wear your pretty pink frock on Sunday, or 
your lovely green hat, or your blue socks," &c. The little girl 
accordingly is "good,'' in order to gratify her taste for dress, and 
her budding love of admiration : both of these qualities will 
develope as her years increase. 

" Cast a glance on the graceful perfection, on the inimitably 
attractive charm which distinguishes the dress of a Frenchwoman 
from that of all other women on earth," says a contemporary 
writer, " and you will soon see a difference between mademoiselle 
and madame ; the very sound of their voices is not the same. 
The heart and the mental faculties of a young girl seem to be 
wrapped in slumber, or at any rate dozing, until the day comes 
when they are to be roused by the marriage ceremony. So long 
as only mademoiselle is speaking, there is in the tone, or rather in 
the key of her voice, something limp, monotonous, and insipid ; but 
let madame address you, and you will be fascinated by the charm 
with which rhythm, cadence, and accentuation can invest a woman's 

As we have said, Paris and the whole of France have for a 
very long time inaugurated the fashions which every other nation 
has adopted. Yet the first journal especially devoted to fashion 
was not published in France. One Josse Amman, a painter, who 
was born at Zurich, and who died at Nuremberg, brought out, in 
1586, a charming series of plates on the fashions of his day, under 
the title of " Gynaeceum, sive Theatrum Mulierum," &c. (" The 
Gynaeceum or Theatre of Women, in which are reproduced by 
engraving the female costumes of all the nations of Europe "). 
This work was published at Frankfort, and although it cannot be 
duly appreciated by women, because it is written in Latin, it 
must be regarded as the origin of all the Journals of Fashion 
which have since grown and multiplied. 

Under the title, " Les Modes de la Cour de France, depuis Tan 
1675 jusqu'a I'annee 1689," two folio volumes of coloured fashion- 
plates were published in Paris ; but they principally related to 
special costumes for the courtiers of Louis XIV. ; the " city " was 
treated with contempt, and admiration was reserved for fine " court- 


dresses." There was no periodical paper in France, relating to 
novelties in female dress, before the time of the Directory, in the 
closing years of the eighteenth century. Until then there had 
been no development of theories on this interesting subject. 
Our neighbours imitated our dress, after having visited our salons 
or our promenades, or they consulted some desultory drawings of 

In June 1797, Selleque, in partnership with Mme. Clement, 
nee Hemery, founded the " Journal des Dames et des Modes." 
They were joined, in the matter of engraving only, by an eccle- 
siastic named Pierre Lamesangere, a sober and grave personage, 
who a few years before had been Professor of Literature and 
Philosophy at the College of La Fleche, and who by reason of the 
evil times was embarking on a career very far opposed to that of 
the Professor's chair. On the death of Selleque, Lamesangere 
carried on the journal, and made it his chief business from the 
year 1799. 

The " Journal des Dames et des Modes " was published at 
intervals of five days, with a pretty coloured plate of a lady in 
fashionable dress. On the 15 th of each month there were two 
plates. Lamesangere himself kept the accounts, edited the 
magazine with as light a touch as possible, and superintended the 
engraving of the plates. He attended the theatres and all places 
of public resort in order to observe the ladies' dresses. 

So successful was the undertaking that Lamesangere acquired 
a considerable fortune. His own attire was above criticism. At 
his death his wardrobe contained a thousand pairs of silk stockings, 
two thousand pairs of shoes, six dozen blue coats, one hundred 
round hats, forty umbrellas, and ninety snuffboxes. 

Truly a well-provided wardrobe ! and greatly exceeding that of 
a wealthy person at the present day. 

The " Journal des Dames et des Modes " reigned without a 
rival for more than twenty years, viz. from 1797 to 1829. It 
forms an amusing collection of three-and-thirty volumes, and may 
be consulted with profit both by philosophers and fine ladies. 

Some of his contemporaries used to compare Lamesangere to 


Alexander. His empire over the world of fashion was as wide as 
that of Alexander. At his death his kingdom was divided, even 
as the possessions of the King of Macedonia were. " Le Petit 
Courrier des Dames," " Le Follet," " La Psyche," and a hundred 
other fashion-books appeared : among them we must name " La 
Mode," a journal published under the patronage of the Duchess 
de Berri, sumptuously printed, and which became a sort of arbiter 
of fashion in " high life." 

At the present day there are innumerable guide-books to 
Fashion. Women are at no loss for description, history, 
practical details, or information concerning the business of their 
toilet. Intelligent minds are daily at work to invent or to 
perfect the numberless trifles that are either aids or snares to 

In addition to books, albums, and newspapers, Fashion also 
makes use of dolls for its propaganda. Dolls serve as models to 
the women of foreign nations, and for a length of time they have 
played their part in this important matter. In 1391, Isabeau de 
Baviere, the Queen of Charles VI., made a present of dolls dressed 
in the latest fashion to the Queen of England ; and the books of 
the Royal Household mention a similar gift from Anne of 
Brittany to the celebrated Isabella of Castile, Queen of Spain, 
in 1496. 

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries these gifts of dolls 
became very frequent. They were so highly valued, that during the 
terrible war of the Succession in Spain between the English and 
French, the Cabinets of Versailles and of St. James's granted a free 
pass for an alabaster doll, which, with dress and hair arranged in 
the newest fashion of the Court of France, conveyed our latest 
novelties across the Channel. 

Like Dandin, the judge in " Les Plaideurs," who begs Intime 
the lawyer to " pass on to the deluge " so as to escape his 
lecture on the creation of the world, our fair readers must hope 
that we are not about to begin our history with the origin of our 

But while we restrict ourselves within proper limits, it is not 


possible to avoid speaking of the dress of the most remote 
ancestresses who are known to us, of the women of Gaul and 

We must, for a short space, return to those far-off ages, 
because certain attributes of dress which existed of old have re- 
appeared at different times, and at the very date at which we 
write, more than one Gallic or Gallo-Roman fashion may be 
recognized in the garments or the head-dresses of our country- 

We therefore ask permission to dwell for a short time on the 
earlier centuries of our history. Then the Merovingian period 
will supply us with curious documents. The Carlovingians and 
the early branches of the family of Capet will claim a larger share 
of our attention. Finally we shall dwell on the Middle Ages, 
and the period of the Renaissance, which were remarkable for 
luxury, love of wealth, and splendour of Art, and so we shall pass 
on to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, over which Fashion 
reigned an absolute monarch. 

The Revolution of 1789, the Empire, the Restoration, the 
Monarchy of July, the Second Empire — in a word. Contemporary 
History as it is called, will bring us to 1881, and the fashions of 
which our fair readers can judge for themselves : we have no 
intention of taking a place among archaeologists, or arraying a 
multitude of historical notes before them. Moreover documents 
are few, and even if we wished to relate our story in full, it would 
not be possible, since we are bound to observe the limits of 
historical truth. We may, indeed, endeavour to present it in a 
pleasant light, but we must not change its natural expression. 



'^ l^lUltARY 

ASTnn. Lpvnv 











Gallic period— Woad, or the pastel— Tunics and boulgetes — "Mavors" and "Palla" — 
Cleanliness of the Gallic women— The froth of beer or iotirou — The women of 
Marseilles ; their marriage-portions — Gallo-Roman period— The Roman garment — The 
stola — Refinement of elegance — Extravagant luxury of women — Artificial aids — A 
vestiaire or wardrobe-room of the period — Shoes — ^Jewels and ornaments — The amber 
and crystal ball — Influence of the barbarians. 

We learn with horror from ancient writers that certain women of 
Gaul were accustomed to dye their skin with a whitish matter, 
procured from the leaves of the woad or pastel, a cruciform plant 
from which is derived a starchy substance, that may be substituted 
for indigo for certain purposes. Others were tattooed in almost 
the same manner as the savages of America. 

Such were our mothers in primitive Gaul, a country which 
differed little in extent from modern France. 

But time did its work, and a little later, when the inhabitants 
began to practise industrial arts, the costume of a Gallic woman 
consisted of a wide plaited tunic and of an apron fastened round 
the hips. She would sometimes wear as many as four tunics, one 
over the other, a mantle, part of which veiled her face, and a 
" mitre " or Phrygian cap. She made use also of pockets or of 
leathern bags, and of " bouls " or " boulgetes," made of network, 
which are still in use in Languedoc, and are called " reticules." 

Rich women remarkable for their beauty and elegance adorned 
themselves with many-coloured linen mantles, fastening with a 
clasp on the shoulder ; or else they were entirely unclothed to the 
waist, and draped themselves in a large mantle, which floated over 
their skirts, and was kept in its place by a clasp or fibula of gold 
or silver, greatly resembling the modern brooch. 


A veil covered the head and bosom ; when short, it was called a 
' mavors ;' when long, falling for instance to the feet, it bore the 
name of ' palla.' 

The cleanliness of the Gallic women, which has been praised by 
historians, added another charm to their unrivalled natural beauty. 
No Gallic woman, whatever her rank, would have consented or even 
ventured to wear dirty, untidy, or torn garments ; nor did any one 
of them fail to frequent the baths which were established every- 
where, even in the very poorest localities. The Gallo-Roman 
woman was admired for her fair complexion, her tall and elegant 
figure, and her beautiful features ; and she neglected nothing that 
might tend to procure her that homage. Cold bathing, unguents 
for the face and often for the entire body were to her a delight, a 
duty, and a necessity. In order to preserve the freshness of her 
complexion, she bathed her face in the froth of beer or kaurou, 
dyed her eyebrows with tallow, or with a juice taken from the 
sea-pike, a fish found on the coast of Gaul. She made frequent use 
at her toilet of chalk dissolved in vinegar, a mixture injurious to 
health, but very efficacious as a pommade; she coloured her 
cheeks with vermilion, put lime on her hair, which she covered 
with a net, or plaited it into narrow bands, either throwing it back 
or giving it the curve of a helmet. 

Her luxury was not limited to ornaments only, to necklaces, 
bracelets, rings, or waistbands of metal ; she borrowed her charms 
from Nature too, and, as we have seen, had little reason to complain. 
Bracelets, which still held their place under the Merovingians, do 
not seem to have been worn in the Middle Ages. 

In the south, on the shores of the Mediterranean, the women 
were strikingly beautiful. They wore a quantity of jewels, a 
short garment reaching only to the knees, and a gorgeously bright 
red apron, such as is worn by the Neapolitans to this day. 

At Marseilles the civilization of the Greeks had spread among 
the people. The young girls of the city were always dressed 
with elegance, and, doubtless lest drink might impair the ivory 
white of their complexion, custom forbade them to partake of wine ; 
also in order to guard against an excess of luxury, the law required 


that the highest marriage-portion of a woman should not exceed 
one hundred golden crowns, nor her finest ornaments five hundred 
crowns. And that arbitrary law seems to have been strictly 
enforced . 

After the conquest of Gaul by Cassar, Roman civilization and 
Roman corruption were introduced into our country. 

It is difficult to resist the attractions of beautiful things, and 
however great may have been the hatred of their husbands towards 
the conquerors, the Gallic women, now become Gallo-Romans, were 
very ready, as may easily be imagined, to follow the example of the 
ladies from Italy. They declined to be beaten in the art of 
pleasing, as their warriors had been vanquished on the battle-field. 

The fair Gallo-Roman adopted the fashions of Rome. Extra- 
vagance in dress became boundless, and dissimilarity of garments 
denoted various degrees of wealth. The " stola," a tunic reaching to 
the ground, and gathered by a girdle round the hips, while a band 
adjusted it to the bosom, allowed only the tips of the feet to be seen. 
It fell in numerous rich folds, and was as characteristic of the 
matron as was the " toga " of a citizen of Rome. 

One lady might be satisfied with a chemise, with the wide 
drapery of the tunic scolloped at the edge, a short apron and 
sandals ; while another would load herself with tunics, the upper one 
being sleeveless, sometimes embroidered and sometimes not, 
confined by a band round the waist, and by a clasp on either 
shoulder. A sort of mantilla veiled the entire figure. 

Some few ladies chose to wear garments which on account of 
their great breadth were called " palissades '' by Horace, the 
satirical poet of the Augustan age. 

From these the first idea of those vertugadins and crinolines, 
which we shall frequently be called upon to notice in the course of 
the present history, appears to have been derived. 

An elegant town lady would also adorn herself with a mantle 
that half covered her head, and with the " pallium," a golden tissue 
without either clasps or pins, thrown across the left shoulder and 
round the figure. Another would, like a Gallic woman, wear the 
Phrygian cap, which allowed her beautiful hair to be seen and 


admired. This was fastened back with the " vitta," a ribbon or band 
which only patricians had the right to use, crossed with narrow 
bands or confined in a net, and arranged with much skill. The 
hair was frequently dyed red or yellow ; or brown plaits would be 
concealed under the fair locks taken from some German slave, and 
lightly sprinkled with gold-dust. 

The face of a Gallo-Roman lady was resplendent in beauty, 
thanks to the refined arts of dress, and her complexion remained 
incomparably fair in spite of the lapse of years. Beneath the 
tunic she wore the " strophium," a sort of corset which defined the 
figure, and in which she could carry her letters. Ovid observes 
that to equalize the shoulders, if one were rather higher than 
the other, it was sufficient to drape lightly the lower of the two. 
Thus did " postiches " and padding originate. 

The Gallo-Roman lady soon began to make use of the "sudarium" 
or pocket-handkerchief, a piece of stuff, either plain or em- 
broidered, which she held in her hand to wipe the damp from her 
forehead, or to use as we use our handkerchiefs. We can imagine 
her leaving her gilded chariot, a sort of palanquin whose shafts 
were supported by a pair of horses, mules, or oxen. This was a 
closed carriage lined with skins and strewn with straw, and the 
noble lady lay within it, softly reposing on a " pulvinar," or large 
silken cushion scented with roses. She had adopted the manners, 
if not the morals of the East. She could appreciate and admire 
and amass rings of gold, silver ornaments for her dressing-table, 
for the bath-room, for travelling ; mirrors, earrings of incrusted 
glass, rings, and necklaces. She made use of many different 
perfumes : scented and hygienic pomatums, essence of lilies, roses, 
and myrrh, unguents made from the cock and from pure 
spikenard. She delighted in waistbands and ribbons, in cushions, 
furs, and felt, — in one word, in all the luxuries that contribute to 
cleanliness and elegance. She had a decided taste for showy 

The wardrobe of a Gallic-Roman lady would consist of tissues 
of linen, cotton, or silk, taking the place of the modern chemise ; 
of a sort of boneless corset to support the bosom, of a dressing- 


gown, of robes of ceremony, of tunics, half tunics, and violet- 
coloured mantles, shaped much like a modern pelerine. A 
Frenchwoman of the present day has not a better assorted ward- 

On going out Gallic-Roman ladies donned a short mantle, 
which covered their shoulders, and a scarf for their head, the light 
and transparent veil of which their head-dress was composed 
sparkled with gold and silver spangles, mingled with narrow 
bands, ribbons, and beads. They left their pointed and cork-soled 
slippers, turned up at the toes and without heels, at home. Similar 
shoes may be seen to this day in the Museum at Clermont, in 

Whenever an elegant patrician lady left her home to take a 
drive or pay visits, she changed her shoes. Sandals took the 
place of the " lancia," or house-slippers. She sometimes wore 
the "cothurnus," a walking-boot, unrivalled, except by the light 
shoes called " campodes," habitually worn by the peasant women. 
Shoes were marks of distinction. For instance, those called 
" peribarides " denoted that the Gallo-Roman lady, their wearer, 
belonged to one of the highest families. 

In Gaul, as in Rome, extravagance in jewels and ornaments 
defied all the sumptuary laws, although the latter were as plentiful 
as they were useless. Gallo-Romans would not be denit heir 
gold and silver ornaments. 

Cameos and engraved stones, emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, 
and the fi.nest pearls give immense value to the necklaces, rings, 
bracelets, large circular earrings, and even garters, of that remote 
period. Garters, we beg to point out, were not used to keep up 
stockings, which were not worn in those times, but served to 
confine a sort of trouser of fine linen. Some of the Gallo-Roman 
ladies wore these garters or anklets on the bare leg, as they wore 
bracelets on the arm. 

Parasols, steel mirrors, fans — all these things were known to 
the Gallo-Roman period. Perfumers were constantly making 
fresh discoveries, and there were dentists who manufactured 
marvellous false teeth, so as " to repair the irreparable injuries of 



Time." Any defects in the face were remedied by drugs of all 
kinds. The eyelids were stained in order to give brilliancy to the 

At least twenty women were in the service of each patrician 
lady, and the latter always devoted much time and thought to her 
dress. These women attired her with exceeding care ; they were 
admirable hair- dressers, and used pomatum profusely. One was 
the proud bearer of a parasol. A Roman fashion, borrowed from 
the Egyptians, prescribed that slaves should carry in silver or 
golden nets the amber and crystal balls used by their mistresses. 

With what grace and skill did these noble ladies twist and press 
the crystal balls in their fingers at a public fete, or at the circus or 
theatre ! They subdued by this means the excessive warmth of 
their hands, and secured a constant coolness. When the crystal 
ball became heated, it was succeeded by one of amber, which as it 
warmed gave forth a most delightful odour. 

In like manner the fan offered opportunities for the Gallo- 
Roman ladies to display all their grace and skill, and the fan has 
retained its place down to our own time, while it has found an 
historian in M, Blondel, who has published a very curious 
monograph on fans among ancient and modern peoples. 

The Gauls of both sexes had a patriotic love of their national 
costume, which they would not discard even when travelling in 
Asia. Nevertheless, they did not refuse to learn from their 
Roman conquerors, whose advanced civilization took gradual 
hold of our ancestors, and ended by metamorphosing them. 

Did they borrow something from the costumes of the Vandals, 
Huns, Goths, and Burgundians, from the various barbarians who 
appeared in succession on the soil of Gaul? We may believe that they 
did, for the women who accompanied those wild invaders must have 
left everywhere behind them some trace of their passage. As 
they sat making their garments in their tents, they must have 
inspired the Gallo- Roman women with a wish to imitate this or 
that accessory of the toilet, so soon as the terror caused by the 
presence of the soldiery had passed away. And though some of 
these strangers wore only the skins of beasts, others were accus- 


tomed to " the purple," and to tissues from the East ; some few 
combined Greek elegance with Latin wealth, and were covered 
with valuable ornaments. 

The Visigoths mingled with the peoples of Southern Gaul, and 
the women were sufficiently civilized to be not unpleasino- to the 

At Toulouse, where the Gothic kings had fixed their abode, 
a large and splendid court, which was destined to exercise an 
undisputed sway during many centuries, had risen round them. 

The Burgundians, who had established tliemselves between the 
banks of the Lake of Geneva and the confluence of the Moselle 
and the Rhine, looked upon theGallo-Romans not as subjects, but 
as brethren ; nor did their laws forbid marriage between themselves 
and the inhabitants of a conquered country. They evidently 
followed more or less slowly the progress of civilization in Gaul, 
and their manners and customs and even their dress influenced and 
were influenced in their turn by those of the inhabitants of the 
occupied country. 

It may be that no history of the art of Dress will ever be 
verified by the documents necessary for the accurate recon- 
struction of the details of female costume from the first invasion 
of the barbarians until the last, that of the Franks, of which we are 
now about to note the most striking effects. 

Such lapses are to be regretted, but they could not be filled up 
without venturing on unfounded hypotheses or unsupported fancy. 
It is better to restrict ourselves to the exact truth than to change 
the pen of history for that of romance. 


c 2 



428 TO 752. 

Modifications in female dress after the Invasion of the Franks — Customs of the latter — 
The Merovingians — Costumes of skins and felt ; cloaks and camlets — The coif, the veil, 
the skull-cap, the "giiimpe," the cape — Fashionable Merovingian ladies adorn them- 
selves with flowers — Various articles of dress —The " suint " — Young girls dress their hair 
without ornaments — St. Radegonde — The hair of married women. 

The influence of political events on costume is more decisive than 
is generally supposed. Cssar's conquest of Gaul had greatly 
modified the dress of the Gallic women. After the invasions of 
the barbarians, and when the Franks had snatched the most 
vivacious region of our country from the Romans, a material 
change took, place in the dress of the women. 

Former invasions had generally been of a temporary nature, but 
the invasion of the Franks was of a permanent character. This 
rendered it highly important in regard to the moral life of the 
population. The Franks, like the Romans at an earlier period, 
made a real conquest of our country, in which they founded a 
different state of society from that which had been established by 
Caesar and his successors. The rough, not to say ferocious 
manners of the north crossed the Rhine together with the bold and 
indomitable warriors whose adventurous exploits have been made 
known to us by history, and both private and public life felt their 

The Frankish woman, who was large and coarsely built, wore a 
long black gown, or a gown edged with scarlet, but her arms were 
bare and her bosom was uncovered. She crowned her head with 
flowering gorse, and would rush fully armed Into the bloody fray. 
At times Inspired, or filled with the spirit of prophecy, she sang 


the deeds of father, husband, or son, or recounted the victories of 
the confederacy. She resembled the other Allemanni women In 
her dreamy creed and gentle superstitions, and she possessed quiet 
energy and comparative sociability which enabled her to triumph 
over obstacles. While holding tenaciously to many primitive 
customs she was not altogether averse to innovations, nor to art, 
industries, and southern civilization. She held her place admirably 
at the court of Clovis, who, as tradition informs us, liked to dispense 
his favours and had a taste for magnificence. 

No sooner were the Franks firmly established this side of the 
Rhine, on the northern and eastern territories, than the rusticity of 
the Germans began to blend with the refinements of the Latin 
race, and in some cases to counteract the elements of corruption 
in the latter. The customs of the Franks took root among the 
Gallo-Romans, and for a time the smaller details of dress dis- 
appeared, or at least held their place with the utmost difficulty. 

During the first period of the Merovingian monarchy, both 
men and women were clothed in the skins of animals. At times 
both sexes would wear garments of felt, or narrow, short-sleeved 
silken mantles, dyed red or scarlet, or garments of a coarse 
material made from camels' hair and thence named camlet. 
Camlet was sometimes woven with a silk warp. 

Generally speaking, the women covered their heads with coifs, 
not unlike the ancient mitres that originated in Persia, or they 
wore a linen or cotton veil, ornamented with gold and gems, and 
drew the end of the right side over the left shoulder. But the 
Prankish women proper wore a small skull-cap called an " obbou." 
Any person who knocked this cap off rudely was mulcted In a 
heavy fine by the Salic law. Respect towards woman was 
enforced by Franks and Germans alike. 

Queen Clotilde is frequently represented as wearing a tunic, 
confined round the waist by a band of some precious material. 
Her mantle is laced together across the breast, and her hair falls 
in a long plait. Later than this, St. Radegonde wore a sort of 
" guimpe " called " sabanum," made of lawn, rudely embroidered 
in gold, if we may credit Fortunat the poet, who was frequently in 


her company. After her conversion the Queen of Clotaire I. 
followed the fashions of the barbarians. Six years after her 
marriage she withdrew from the court, in order to devote herself 
to religious exercises, diversified by literary pursuits. 

The Merovingian women were partial to many-coloured tunics, 
to embroideries, to flowered stuffs, and to a sort of cape known 
to them of old. This consisted of a piece of striped material of 
circular shape, with an aperture for the head, and two holes for the 
arms ; it covered the chest and shoulders, and was fastened by 
strings round the loins. They wore two belts, one above and the 
other below the bust. Their arms were bare, as it was the custom 
of dwellers on the banks of the Rhine. 

Sometimes — an instance is supplied by Ultrogothe, the wife of 
Childebert — they made use of a large mantle, a sort of chlamys, 
fastened at the throat or on the right shoulder by a clasp. 

If to this we add an " cscarcelle " or purse, in which kings and 
queens carried coins to distribute to the poor, my readers will 
have an exact idea of the female dress of the time. 

In such costumes the fair Merovingians were wanting neither 
in charm, nor dignity, nor in a certain modest elegance. They 
probably borrowed some details of attire from the Gallo-Roman 
fashions and added them to their own. 

Bishop Fortunat, a Latin poet of that day, who was present at 
the wedding of Siegbert and Brunehilde, alludes to the custom his 
countrywomen had adopted of wreathing their hair with sweet- 
smelling flowers. Another bishop and historian, Gregory of 
Tours, who from his position was also well acquainted with the 
customs of the Merovingian court, speaks of silken robes, which 
he describes as splendid. 

Every wealthy woman loaded herself with jewels. They wore 
pearl necklaces, jacinths, diamonds, gowns with long trains, 
mantles, tunics, hoods, veils, and casques ; earrings, bracelets, 
necklets, and rings ; stomachers and belts of woollen, linen, or 

Their dresses on festive occasions sparkled with gold and jewels. 
St. Gregory of Nazianzen rebuked them for their innumerable 


perfumed plaits of hair, yet they knew of one pommade only — 
"suint,"an animal grease which proceeds from the skin of the 
sheep and clings to its wool. Such a perfume would be nauseous 
to the women of our day, but it was much liked by the Prankish 
women, either for its novelty, or from its efficaciousness in giving 
smoothness to the skin. 

A MS. of 660 gives the picture of a Merovingian lady wearing 
her hair smoothly parted on the brow and hanging down in two 
thick plaits, lessening in size as they fall over her shoulders. A 
fluted diadem of gold, placed like a crown on the head, confines 
the hair, and imparts to the pictured form a certain air of majesty. 
Young girls, with whom it was customary to wear their hair 
flowing loosely, were permitted no ornaments on the head. This 
was so general a custom that if as they grew older they remained 
unmarried, they were said to " wear their hair." The beautiful 
Radegonde, after the murder of her brother by her husband 
Clotaire I., received permission from the tyrant to withdraw from 
the world. As a mark of humility she placed on the altar her 
diadems, bracelets, clasps of precious gems, fringes, and golden 
and purple tissues. Then she broke in twain her belt of massive 
gold. The sacrifice was consummated ; Radegonde belonged to 
God alone. She died in the odour of sanctity at the monastery 
of Sainte-Croix, which she had founded at Poitiers. 

One of the councils forbade married women to cut their hair, 
as a symbol of their subjection to their husbands. But this pro- 
hibition did not cure them of their vanity ; they might still plait 
their hair with ribbons, and wear it parted in the middle and 
falling in two wide plaits, like that of Swiss peasants at the present 


Numerous statues have preserved for us this Merovingian 
fashion, which was not wanting in grace, while it conferred on 
women an appearance of severe simplicity, less majestic than that 
of the figure I have described in speaking of a manuscript of the 
seventh century. 




< rS 

I -^ 








752 TO 9S7. 

Reign of Charlemagne — The women of the tenth century wear two tunics — Judith's belt — 
A veil is obligatory — Miniatures in the Mazarin Library — Charles the Bald's Bible — 
Shoes — Dress of Queen Lutgarde — Dress of Rotrude and Bertha — Gisia and other 
kinswomen of the Emperor — The successors of Charlemagne — Cannes — Adelaide of 
Vermandois — The dress of widows. 

The reign of Charlemagne, and the passing away of the first race 
of our kings, to be succeeded by the second, made no essential 
difference as to dress. We cannot, in fact, ascribe much import- 
ance to the German and Byzantine influences which succeeded 
each other at that period, but did not destroy what we may 
denominate the Gallo-Roman style. 

The most elegant dress of a woman in the tenth century 
consisted of two tunics of different colours, one with long, the 
other with short sleeves ; on the feet were boots laced up in front. 
Wide bands of embroidery bordered the throat, sleeves, and lower 
edge of the skirt. The waist-band was placed just above the hips. 
This belt was generally of great value, being studded with gold 
and jewels. The belt belonging to Judith, wife of Louis le 
Debonnaire, weighed three pounds. At the present day there are 
no waist-bands either of that weight or value. 

The Carlovingian women wore splendidly embroidered veils, 
covering the head and shoulders, and reaching almost to the 
ground. This lent a character of severity to the costume, 
which was especially aimed at by the women of that period. 
The veil was indispensable, being regarded as the penalty 
of the sin of our Mother Eve, and the hair was concealed 
beneath it. 


Among the admirable miniatures in tlie Mazarin Library, 
there is one of a queen wearing a triangular diadem, and a veil 
falling on either side over the shoulders. The under-tunic is 
black, the upper, in the style of a mantle, is violet. Both are 
bordered with yellow, her shoes are yellow also, and borderings 
and shoes alike were probably ornamented with gold. 

In the celebrated Bible of Charles the Bald, a most curious 
historical treasure, there are paintings of four women wearing the 
chlamys in different colours. 

The chlamys is always white, with sleeves of gold brocade, with 
one exception, when it is rose-coloured. The under-garments 
are bright orange, light brown, light blue, and violet, with pale 
blue sleeves, trimmed with strips of red embroidery on bands 
of a gold ground. 

We find that gold was used everywhere and always, and while 
making due allowance for the imagination of the artist, his 
pictures throw light on the costumes of the period. 

Observe that the four women all wear shoes, not boots. 
The historian has in general but scanty material with which to 
trace the dress of the princesses and ladies of the court under 
the Carlovingians, on account of the many wars both civil and 
foreign that took place between the time of Charlemagne and that 
of Charles the Simple. 

Still less do we know concerning the dress of the women of the 
people, for on that point history is almost silent. We learn, 
however, that their skirts were extremely long, and that they 
wore veils much resembling the veil of nuns, but thicker, and 
hanging more closely round the figure. 

Among women of noble rank the love of dress harmonized 
with the taste for needlework displayed by the kinswomen of 
Charlemagne, as recorded by the old chroniclers. 

They worked with their own hands on silk and wool, but this 
did not prevent them from loving and seeking to acquire magni- 
ficent possessions, splendid ornaments and trimmings of excessive 
richness. The Empress Judith, mother of Charles the Bald, was 
considered to have great skill in embroidery. She gave to her 


godchild, the Queen of Denmark, a gown made by herself and 
adorned with gold and gems. The ladies excelled in the 
manufacture of small articles, such as bags, scarfs, sleeves, and 

Narrow purple bands were plaited In Queen Luitgarde's beautiful 
hair, and encircled her brow of dazzling fairness. Cords of gold 
held together her chlamys, a splendid mantle thrown over her 
right shoulder, A beryl, that clear and precious stone of bluish 
green, was set in her diadem. Her gown was of fine linen, dyed 
purple ; her neck, sparkled with jewels. 

Rotrude, the eldest daughter of Charlemagne, wore a mantle 
with a clasp of gold and precious stones. Violet bands were 
plaited with her luxuriant fair hair. A golden coronet diapered 
with gems as beautiful as those in the clasp of her mantle 
encircled her brow, and gave her a truly queen-like look. 
Rotrude had been promised in marriage to the Emperor Con- 
stantine, who had heard of her beauty from beyond seas and 

Bertha, another of Charlemagne's daughters, who was married 
secretly to Angilbert, a disciple of Alcuin, and a member of the 
Palatine school, wore her hair confined in a golden fillet, and her 
head-dress was as impressive as that of her sister. Yellow-green 
chrysolites sparkled on the gold leaves with which her garments 
were embroidered. 

Gisla, the best known of the great Emperor's kinswomen, 
wore a purple striped veil, and a dress dyed with the stamens of 
the marsh-mallow or " mauve." 

Rhodaide rode on a superb horse ; a gold bodkin set with 
jewels fastened her flowing silken chlamys. 

The mantle of Theodrade was hyacinth, and trimmed with 
moleskin ; beads of foreign fabric shone on her beautiful throat ; 
on her feet she wore the Greek cothurnus, like the Byzantine 

Such are the descriptions given us by writers of the period, 
from whom we also learn that the Carlovlngian ladies wore but 
one girdle, placed very low. The materials of their gowns were 


frequently transparent, revealing the shoulders, arms, and lower 
limbs, and the gowns themselves were somewhat clinging, so that 
the graceful undulating movement of the body was visible, as in 
the antique times. 

These transparent materials disappeared by degrees under the 
successors of Charlemagne, and women's dress became heavier and 
more ample. Long veils were worn. 

Under the last Carlovingians the splendour and elegance of 
female dress declined. Ladies began to wear extremely simple 
hoods and copes. They retained the habit of being delicately shod, 
shoes being for the most part black and embroidered in beads. 
Were they already aware of the important part played by shoes in 
the elegant appearance of a woman .'' 

Carlovingian ladies frequently made use in their walks of 
a cane, ornamented at the top by a bird ; the use of a 
stick lessening their fatigue and imparting uprightness to the 

If we may judge by the statue of Adelaide de Vermandois, the 
widow of Count Geoffrey of Anjou, surnamed " Grisgonelle," 
who died in 987, the dress of aged women in the tenth century 
was somewhat as follows : — A mantle was worn over a wide-sleeved 
gown, under which appeared another garment, with close-fitting 
sleeves, buttoning at the wrist. A " guimpe " covered the upper 
part of the bust, encircled the throat and was joined to the veil, 
which, arranged in two large pads over the ears, presented a 
strange appearance. 

"We may conclude by saying that the women of that period 
preferred a rich but severe style of dress. Tightly fitting gowns 
displayed the slenderness of the waist. Their ornaments, some- 
times of inestimable value, had none of the gaudiness that afterwards 
disfigured the dress of the noble court ladies. Intrinsic value in 
jewels was much appreciated, and they were worn, according to a 
Byzantine fashion, fastened to the dress of which they appeared 
to form part. For a long time past jewels had been worn attached 
to the sides of the circlet or coronet, and falling over the hair as 
low as the shoulders. 


It is noticeable that the garb of widows resembled that of our 
nuns. Ten centuries have scarcely changed its principal cha- 

We learn from the romances of chivalry that to have the insteps 
of the hose cut open was a sign of mourning, and that damosels 
and the people of their suite would make a vow as a mark of 
mourning to put on their garments " the wrong side out." Widows 
of the highest rank wore their gowns high up to the throat, and 
wrapped themselves in a veil. 

The fashion of their head-dress was an important point with 
Carlovingian ladies. If of noble birth they wore their hair long, 
falling behind the ears over the shoulders, and reaching below the 
waist. It was curled or waved on the forehead. Their earrings 
were short pendants ending in a pearl. 

Like the Germans, they united to a love of dress a love of 
cleanliness, and were accustomed to make use of the bath, either at 
the public establishments, or in their own villas, which were 
provided with every necessary for their daily wants. In these 
respects certain customs of the East had rather gained than lost 
ground, and this in spite of the prohibitions of the Catholic 
Church, which sought to prevent scandals, or exaggerated practices 
hurtful to the public health. 

But it would be a great mistake to imagine that baths were 
taken during the Carlovingian period in splendidly decorated halls 
like those of the Romans ; statues, paintings, and mosaics were 
alike absent. 

The therms of Julian on the left bank of the Seine, of which 
the ruins remain to this day in the Hotel de Cluny on the 
Boulevards St. Michel and St. Germain, included gardens, porticoes, 
nay, even an immense palace, in which many kings and queens of 
the earliest race took up their abode, and in all probability made 
use of its baths. Childebert, for instance, set up his court there 
with Ultrogothe and his daughters. 

But with these exceptions no Merovingian or Carlovingian king 
has possessed baths of such size. It is almost certain that the 
great lords and ladies built no large bathing establishments in 



connexion with their private dwellings ; on the other hand, their 
toilet apparatus, plate, brushes, fine towels, and other articles were 
often of very great value. The bath itself was of wood, marble, 
or stone. 

The pubHc baths served as a place of meeting, where the 
news of the day might be ascertained, and business and pleasure 




9S7 TO 1270. 

Earliest times of the Carlovingian period — Variety of costume in the provinces — Fashions in 
the Duchy of France — French taste dating from the eleventh centur)- — Luxury increases 
with each generation — The dominical — The "bliaud "—Canes of apple-wood — Women 
in the twelfth century — Head-dresses — " Afiche " — Serpent-tails — Pelisses — The 
thirteenth centurj- — "Grt^vcs" and veils are in fashion— The " couvre-chef " in the 
fourteenth century — The skirt, or "cotte-hardie," surcoat, or overall, or overskirt, cape, 
trained skirt, and "gauzape" — Accessories— Emlilazoned gowns — Various kinds of 

By degrees, according as the nation acquired unity, and France was 
in process of self-construction, dress became more original and 
more special. The remembrance of the Roman occupation and 
the influences of the barbaric invasion were visibly fading away. 
Gallo-Roman, Prankish, and German women no longer dwelt on 
the soil of our country, their place was taken by Frenchwomen of 
feudal times and of the middle ages, whose nationality became 
every day more decided. These were our real ancestresses, who 
neither in their dress nor in their homes were content to follow the 
fashions of antiquity. 

From the accession of the Capet family until the Renaissance, 
variety in dress became developed in all those western provinces 
that were destined to be welded at a later period into one 
homogeneous France. In Brittany, Burgundy, Flanders, Gascony, 
and Provence, the women adopted a costume of their own, adding 
to one general principle of form a number of details. Some of 
these still exist at the present day, but it would be too tedious to 
describe them. 

The Duchy of France, which formed the kernel of our modern 
France, will suffice to afford us an exact idea of olden fashions ; 


just as Paris is nowadays the great centre and starting-point of 
every innovation in the toilet of our fair contemporaries. 

Dress, fashion, and luxury varied considerably from and after the 
eleventh century. William, Archbishop of Rouen, caused a 
Council of the Church to be held in 1096. At this council it was 
decreed that men wearing long hair should be excluded from the 
Church during life, and that after death prayer should not be 
offered for their souls. 

Taste in France became improved through the commercial 
relations existing with the East, and the rudimentary style of 
dress of the two earlier races was succeeded by something more 
artistic, and more easily adapted to the art of chivalry. Women 
adorned their brows with bands of jewels, wreaths of roses, or 
golden nets. 

It is no exaggeration to say that each succeeding generation 
saw greater attention paid to dress by both men and women, the 
latter especially ; that caprice began to show itself in those curious 
eccentricities which still afford us food for laughter, and that 
luxury reigned in consequence over all the population, in spite of 
the efforts of those in authority, who endeavoured to regulate the 
tastes of all classes by sumptuary laws. 

There are many miniatures of women of rank in the eleventh 
century, in which they are represented as wearing a mantle and 
veil. The latter was called a " dominical," because it was usually 
worn at the services of the Church on Sundays. Women were 
bound to wear this veil when receiving Holy Communion. 
According to the synodical statutes women who were without 
their veil were obliged to defer their Communion until the 
following Sunday. At the moment of receiving the Sacred Host 
they held one end of the " dominical " in the left hand. 

A crown or a diadem encircled the veil of queens and princesses. 
Widows wore, in addition, a bandeau covering the forehead and 
fitting round the face so as to hide the throat and neck. They 
wore no jewels, not even rings. The veil of a lady of gentle birth 
reached to her feet, but that of a plebeian might not fall below the 


In the eleventh century women also wore " bliauds," a sort 
of gown reaching to the feet, with deep folds on either side, but 
scanty in front and behind. The shape of the " bliaud " was 
afterwards altered, and long sleeves were used in place of half 
sleeves. For travelling they might wear the " garde-corps," a 
long dress, open for a short distance from the edge of the skirt 
in front, and with long wide sleeves ; these they often did not use 
as such, and in that case they hung loosely at the sides. 

They also made use of walking-sticks of apple-wood, such as 
had been used in earlier times by the Prankish warriors. It is 
recorded that Constance, the second wife of King Robert, knocked 
out the eye of her confessor with one of these canes. The 
Carlovingian women, as we have seen, had also made use of 

From the beginning of the twelfth century many women wore 
round their head a simple ribbon, ornamented with flowers or 
embroideries in the case of the court ladies, who wore besides 
either a sort of chin-cloth surrounding the face, or a " claque- 
oreille " — i.e. a hat with falling brims. 

Women of the people wore veils or cloth hoods ; those of high 
rank hoods of velvet. These head-dresses were very becoming to 
Frenchwomen, who altered them but slightly in the progress of time. 
In addition to these, we remark in old illuminated MSS. head- 
dresses of hair only, a very simple and yet elegant style. 

From 1 130 to 1140, women of noble rank divided their hair 
into two thick plaits, falling in front of the shoulders, or, parting it 
as before, they fastened the two long locks together by means or 
narrow bands of silk or of gold tissue. Such hair-dressing as this 
required much care and attention. Long plaits remained in 
fashion until about 1170, when our countrywomen began to 
conceal their hair under a veil, or by a band passing under the 
chin and fastened on the crown of the head, while the hair was 
gathered together in a chignon at the nape of the neck. 

At the same period they preferred plaques to necklaces. They 
wore these plaques on the chest as brooches or clasps. The 
" afiche " or chest-clasp was generally of a circular shape, and 



ornamented at each end with a network of fine workmanship in 
precious metal set with pearl. The handkerchief, of some 
valuable material, hung at the waist with the keys. 

At the end of the twelfth century, Mabille de Retz, a noble 
and learned lady of Provence, wore a fur-bordered gown without 
a waist-band. The left side and left sleeve of the bodice are 
white, the other side blue. Parti- coloured garments were already 
in vogue. 

At times women wore their sleeves a la bombarde, like the leg- 
of-mutton sleeves, of which I shall treat when writing of the 
Restoration. At other times they ornamented their gowns with 
gold round the throat ; again, they preferred before everything 
a dress a queue de serpent. The Prior of Vigeois raised his voice 
against the long-tailed gowns. " The tail," said he, " gives a 
woman the look of a serpent." 

The Council of Montpellier forbade the appendices in question 
under penalty of excommunication. Tunics made of fur were 
called " pelisses." The sleeves of " bliauds " were trimmed with 
puffs, braid, or embroidery. Beneath the " bliaud " drawers or 
the " bache " were worn. 

One hundred years later women divided their hair in front, 
forming a parting that was called a " greve " (or shore). Many 
of them began to dress their hair without extraneous ornament, in 
all kinds of ways, and with no little skill. They wore a veil, as 
was rigorously enforced by the Church ; for according to an 
Article of the Council of Salisbury, no priest might hear the con- 
fession of an unveiled woman. This veil covered the head 
so entirely that it was imposssible to see whether a woman had 
any hair or not. 

In the fourteenth century Frenchwomen left off the veil in 
favour of the " cornette," a sort of coif or hood. Their hats 
were called " couvre-chefs " (or head-coverings). The frame was 
of parchment, covered with fine cloth, silk, or velvet ; it was 
fantastic enough, if I may make use of that modern expres- 

But the couvre-chef did not remain long in fashion ; it lasted 


during a few years only, probably on account of its extraordinary 

With regard to head-dresses women were about to fall, as we 
shall see, into strange and costly vagaries, and even to take pleasure 
in offending against the laws of modesty. 

For a very long period Frenchwomen had assumed a costume 
almost similar to that of men, and consequently of a grave style. 
They had worn both the skirt or *' cotte hardie " and the 
surcoat, with a pointed head-dress, from which hung a veil 
covering their shoulders and neck, something like the guimpe of a 
nun. To the surcoats were added enormous flowing sleeves, 
which softened the severity of their appearance, and made them 
more agreeable to the eye. 

In the romance of " Ermine de Reims " the following passage 
occurs : — 

" Two women approached me, wearing surcoats a yard longer 
than themselves, so that they must needs carry in their arms that 
which would have dragged on the ground ; and they had also 
long cuffs on their surcoats, hanging from the elbows " 

The greater number of the romance writers of the Middle 
Ages describe costumes of a similar nature. The surcoat, worn 
by both sexes alike in the reign of St. Louis, derived its name, 
in all probability, from the German word cursat^ signifying a sort 
of gown. A garment worn over their cloaks by the Knights of 
the Star, an Order instituted by John the Good, was also called a 

The surcoat was passed over the shoulders. It was as wide 
behind as in front, and was hollowed out at the sides. It reached 
to below the hips, where it was attached to a very long skirt. 
Marguerite de Provence, the wife of St. Louis, wore a surcoat of 
ermine, and a gown, the lower edge embroidered with pearls and 
precious stones. 

According to some bas-reliefs in ivory (twelfth century) the 
Queen of France wore a dress buttoned in front, with sleeves also 
buttoning from the elbow to the wrist ; a mantle open at the 
sides so as to afford a passage for the arms, and a large collar 

D 2 


that left the throat and neck uncovered, ending in two points. 
The other figures wear gowns closed in front, and in some 
instances with double sleeves. The upper sleeve is wide at the 
edge and reaches only to the elbow. 

At the same period both men and women wrapped themselves 

during the severe cold of winter in a cape or cope, a long mantle 

with a hood that could be drawn over the head in wet weather. 

The " chape a pluie," hood or cope, was probably gathered in front. 

How indispensable it must have been to ladies in travelling ! It 

preserved them from cold and fog, and was as useful as the 

waterproof of the present day. An ancient writer speaks of a 

count and countess whose poverty was so great that they had but 

one " chape " between them. In the reign of Louis VII. only 

virtuous women had the right to wear these garments in the streets. 

By retaining only the upper part of the chape or mantle, the 

hood came into existence, with its curtain or cape for the shoulders. 

To this was generally added a roll on the top, and a veil hanging 

down behind. The chaperon or hood was a sign of plebeian 

estate, and remained in fashion for several centuries. 

The long-trained skirt of princesses and noble ladies, with turned 

back collar and narrow closed sleeves, was sometimes open down to 

the ground in front, and sometimes closed and trimmed with 

buttons, and covered with a mantle. The lower part of the face 

and throat were hidden by a "guimpe." Ladies frequently 

adopted the " gauzape " or sleeveless gown, which was emblazoned, 

long-trained, and bordered with ermine, thus distinguishing 

them from plebeians ; for the most part they wore a handsome hood, 

or a coronet of pearls, and an aumoniere or bag, remarkable either 

for its material or the needlework lavished upon it. This was 

generally speaking either a gift, or embroidered by the fair hands 

of the wearer. When the lady was travelling, her aumoniere 

contained besides coin and jewels, a few simple medicaments, 

writing-tablets, etc. It was a small bag closed by a clasp or a 

running-string. It was destined to remain in fashion during all 

the Middle Ages, and afterwards to reappear as a passing caprice at 

various periods. 


The costumes of Blanche of Castille, and of Marguerite of 
Provence, are interesting examples of the fashions of their day. 
Feminine dress first became splendid in the thirteenth century, 
when great ladies and wealthy bourgeoises with their long tresses 
and with something in their carriage not unlike the Greek priestess, 
or the Roman matron, began to wear closely-fitting gowns, 
frequently ornamented with a belt of silk, or cloth of gold ; the 
surcoat, and the fur-bordered mantle. A veil, fastened on the 
crown of the head, flowed over the shoulders. Occasionally the 
gown was open on the chest, and disclosed a sort of collar or 
chemisette artistically embroidered. 

The ladies of highest birth then began to emblazon these closely- 
fitting gowns, fastened high at the throat. On the right side 
they placed their husband's coat of arms, on the left that of their 
own family. They cut open their sleeves in an extraordinary way, 
from elbow to wrist, whence hung a piece of the stuff. 

A gown was made "historical" by embroidering It With fleurs- 
de-lis, birds, fishes, and emblems of all sorts, and thus became a 
portable guide to genealogy. 

Let us here remark that materials for garments had greatly 
increased in number. There was " cendal " almost the same as 
our silk at the present day, and " samite " which apparently greatly 
resembled cendal. The latter was made in every colour, both 
plain, and striped in two or three shades. Samite, a thick silk of 
six strands, was, for the most part, white, green, or red. Then 
there was " pers," or dark blue cloth ; " camelin," a fabric made 
from camels' hair, of which " barracan " was only a variety. The 
warp of the barracan assumed the appearance of bars, whence 
many historians derive the name of the material itself. There was 
" isambrun " also, viz. cloth dyed brown ; " molekin,'' a linen 
material ; " brunette," a brown stuff; " bonnette," a green cloth, 
and " galebrun," a brown coloured cloth. 

There was also a material still coarser than camelin called 
" bureau," there was " fustaine," a strong stuff manufactured from 
cotton, and finally " serge," woven of wool and occasionally mixed 
with thread. 


The arts of weaving and dyeing had made extraordinary 
progress ; a taste for handsome materials had spread even among 
the lowest ranks of society. 

It would appear that the silk manufacturers of Rheims were not 
verv scrupulous. They cheated their customers by introducing 
wool or thread into stufFs that they sold as pure silk ; or they 
made use of silk badly dyed. At Rheims and many other places 
the saying, " He lies like a dyer," passed into a proverb. 



1270 TO 1350. 

Severity of feminine costume — Long gowns and guimpes — Marguerite of Provence — 
"Ferraaux" — Reappearance of splendour in dress— Eastern customs — The priests of 
fashion — Haberdashery and peacock-feathers — Female embroiderers — Taste for em- 
broidery — Continual temptations— Earliest sumptuary laws — Furs — St. Louis's opinion 
on dress— Prohibitions by Philippe le Bel ; speech made by his wife — Crepine. 

Owing to the influence of the Crusades and the predilections of St. 
Louis, the dress of women assumed much of that severity proper to 
masculine garments. Under Louis VIII. a mantle had been the 
distinctive mark of a married woman. It is asserted that St. 
Louis's daughters, whose legs and feet were ill-shaped, contrived to 
wear very long gowns in order to hide them. This was surely a 
pardonable piece of coquetry, and long skirts became the order of 
the day. Similar causes have led to similar results in more recent 

When once the long skirt had been introduced, it resisted many 
attempts to dislodge it. In the reign of Philip III. women hid 
their busts under a " guimpe," and looked almost like our sisters of 
Charity. The coat and the guimpe seem to have been introduced 
by Marie, the king's second wife, whose throat was too long, 
while her bust was absolutely flat, and the wives of the courtiers in 
this instance also copied the Queen of France. Imbued with the 
religious spirit that exercised at that time so great a power over 
the imaginations of mankind, or at any rate overmastered by it, the 
ladies of the court, with few exceptions, were modest in their attire. 
They added indeed to the elegance of their veils, but continued 
to wear them in obedience to ecclesiastical decrees. Queen 
Marguerite of Provence wore a dress close-fitting in the bodice. 


the sleeves were long and narrow ; her mantle was embroidered 
with, fleurs-de-lis, and was made with long open sleeves. Her veil 
was folded with a band beneath the chin, but not setting closely to 
the face. Her head-dress was not unlike a turban. 

But such humility as this could not long prevail over the 
malicious demon of coquetry. On the one hand, people of wealth 
indulged themselves in luxury and splendour, and many knights 
on returning from the Crusades, retained in France the habits they 
had acquired in the East, and on the other, the middle and lower 
classes tried to walk in the steps of the nobles, and the bourgeoises 
endeavoured to array themselves like the haughty consorts of the 

In consequence of the relations existing between France, Europe, 
and the East, and notwithstanding the deep religious convictions 
of the time, innumerable artisans and working women were 
employed in the service of Fashion; drapers or weavers, dress 
cutters and makers, trimmers, ribbon-makers, mauufacturers of 
thread, or silk-fringers who made coifs; weavers of the coarse 
flaxen thread called "canevas," sellers of precious stones or jewellers, 
who exhausted their ingenuity in hundreds of new inventions ; 
goldsmiths, whose art astonished the world ; gold-beaters and 
silver-beaters, dyers, skilful in altering the colours of materials ; 
moulders of buckles and delicate clasps ; furriers who possessed 
the rarest and most costly furs ; and makers of brass, copper, and 
wire buttons. 

It was at the shops of haberdashers that the wives of the nobles 
bought the splendid " parures " with which they ornamented their 
heads. Gowns of siglaton and cendal (a material like modern 
silk) were ornamented with rubies and sapphires. 

Head-dresses in Paris were sometimes surmounted with peacock's 
feathers ; and these soon called into existence " paoniers " or 
peacock-hatters. One Genevieve had great custom as a feather- 
seller, and after having made a large fortune by her trade, she 
devoted it to the decoration of a chapel. 

A very striking head-dress, though simpler than that of 
peacock's feathers, consisted of wreaths of natural flowers, prin- 


cipally roses, and was prepared by the herbalists or floralists who 
abounded in several parts of the capital. 

Epernon, the haberdasher of Rue Qui-qu'en-poist (Quincam- 
poix), had certainly the largest choice of ornamental finery for 
feminine attire. His fame was in every one's mouth, and his shop 
always crowded with customers. 

A large number of embroideresses obtained a living in Paris ; 
there were also many who made up purses with beautiful em- 
broidery, or elegantly worked borders. These purses were 
fastened to the waist-band, and were called " aumonleres sarra- 
slnoises," or Saracen alms-bags. Their name recalled their 
benevolent object to the wearers, though they were used to hold 
other articles besides coin for the poor. 

Within their castles noble ladles employed their long hours of 
leisure in needlework, imitating and sometimes excelling the 
work of the East. They embroidered veils, scarfs, armlets, belts, 
alms-bags, gloves, and shoes ; they copied the family coat-of-arms 
in silken, gold, or silver embroidery on their gowns, their surcoats, 
and their mantles. 

The bourgeoises also devoted their time to needlework, so as 
to increase the elegance of their dress, without Infringing the 
regulations of the sumptuary laws. 

Glove-makers made use of sheepskin, grey fur, hareskin, and 
doeskin in their factories. They also made woollen or silken 
gloves ; long buttoned gloves and scented gloves, and " gloves 
made of kid prepared with violet powder." Italy, Spain, and 
several French towns were famous for their skill and trade In 
gloves. But it was not enough to possess those articles ; It was 
also necessary to wear them according to the latest fashion, and on 
suitable occasions. 

There were numerous makers of felt hats, flower head-dress 
makers of both sexes, makers of cotton, and of peacock-feathers, 
without counting the women weavers of silken head-coverings 
(a sort of milliner), women who made hats of orfrey, and silk- 
spinners. The principal towns of the kingdom abounded in hosiers, 
manufacturers of cloth, linen, or silk hose ; In tanners ; In clever 


shoemakers, who well knew how to turn the pouit of a shoe 
a la ■poulaine — that is, extravagantly curved upwards and 
resembling the prow of a ship. Generally speaking the shoe 
a la poulaine distorted the foot very unpleasantly. 

In the goldsmiths' shops women's eyes were dazzled by clasps, 
bracelets, necklaces, and other articles of marvellous workmanship; 
tailors exhibited goods that were in fact only too splendid. Some 
few mirror manufacturers kept open shops ; their wares were 
exquisitely lovely. We may mention one mirror representing a 
betrothal, that may still be admired in a celebrated collection. 

On every side there was constant temptation. Fortunes were 
swallowed up by the passion for dress, and poorer people made 
the most senseless sacrifices in the same cause. It was becoming 
impossible to determine the rank of a Frenchwoman by her 

In order to restore respect for the inequality of ranks, which 
inequality was a fixed principle actually corroborated by dress 
itself, and to prevent one woman from wearing garments 
exclusively reserved for another, sovereigns began to issue 
sumptuary laws. 

Philip Augustus raised his voice against fur ; though his court 
set no example of simplicity. "The gown and furred cloak of 
the Queen, at St. Remy, cost twenty-eight pounds, less three 

It is interesting to learn what St. Louis, ninth of the name, 
thought about fashion and its rights. He said to his courtiers : 
" You should dress yourselves well and neatly, in order that your 
wives may love you the more, and your people also will esteem 
you the higher for it." Women of rank consequently dressed 
with great splendour. They frequently wore a long train 
fastened to their outer garment, and gilt belts enriched with 
jewels. They often wore two tunics, and a veil that was brought 
round under the chin. The fastenings of their mantles were of 
gold and jewels. They had rosaries of bone, ivory, coral, amber, 
or jet. 

Luxury knew no bounds. The copes, or mantles without 


hoods, made of silken cloth, and trimmed with ermine, em- 
broidery, and edgings of gold were magnificent, and overloaded 
with ornament. 

After the Crusade the ruling powers endeavoured to repress 
the prevailing extravagance. St. Louis issued several enactments 
previous to the prohibitions of Philippe le Bel respecting dress. 

The wording of those prohibitions enlightens us considerably 
with regard to the manners and customs of those times. No 
bourgeoise may possess a chariot. " No bourgeois and no 
bourgeoise," says Philippe le Bel, " may wear minever, or grey 
fur, or ermine, and all such persons must get rid of those furs 
in their possession within a year from next Easter, and they may 

not wear gold, nor jewels, nor belts, nor pearls Dukes, 

counts, and barons, with six thousand livres a year or more, may 
have four pairs of gowns a year and no more, and their wives 

may have as many No damosel, unless she be chatelaine in 

her own right, or lady of two thousand livres a year or more, 
shall have more than one pair of gowns a year, or if she be, then 

two pairs only and no more No bourgeois nor bourgeoise, 

nor esquire, nor clerk shall burn wax lights " 

It was forbidden to barons' wives " howsoever great " to wear 
gowns of a higher value than twenty-five sous (of the Tours 
mint) by the Paris yard ; the wives of knights-banneret and lords 
of the manor were restricted to materials at eighteen sous ; and 
the gowns of bourgeoises might cost sixteen sous nine deniers by 
the yard at the very most. The sumptuary law of Philippe le Bel 
proceeded probably from the following circumstance. On the 
occasion of his wife's solemn entry into Bruges in 1301, she had 
seen the bourgeoises so gorgeously apparelled that she exclaimed, 
" I thought / was the Queen, but I see there are hundreds ! " 

From a document relating to the king's household in 1302, we 
learn that the complete costume of a lady of the palace cost eight 
livres, that of a woman of inferior rank one-third less, and that 
of a waiting-maid fifty-eight sous. The price of a Parisian 
bourgeoise' s cashmere shawl at the time of the Restoration would 
have renewed the whole wardrobe of a court lady. 


According to another document of 1326, Isabelle de France 
wore a head-dress, sugar-loaf shape, of prodigious height ; a veil 
of the finest gauze depended from it and concealed her hair. 

Certain head-dresses of the period were ornamented with 
feathers, others were shaped like bushels of greater or less altitude. 
Occasionally the hair was confined in a net, called a "crestine, 
crepine," or "crespinette." The side-locks were shaped into 
horns. Sometimes, too, women dyed their hair, or wore false 

Guimpes were arranged something like collerettes ; and were 
made lighter and lighter in material, so as to harmonize with every 
kind of costume. 





1350 TO 1380. 

The Slates of Languedoc — A young French lady in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries 
— Low dresses — Saying of a mercer — Damoiselles — Carnaches and gardc-corp! — Le 
Parcmciit des dames — Social distinctions— High character is worth more than gilded belt 
— Precious stones — The castles and other dwellings of the middle ages — Splendid 
furniture — Humble abodes of the poor — Evening assemblies. 

Notwithstanding the efforts of legislation, extravagant expen- 
diture on dress continued as great as ever, while the large majority 
of the French nation was suffering from great poverty. In 1,356 
the States of Languedoc forbade the use of rich clothes until the 
release of King John, who was a prisoner of war in England. 
But noble lords and ladies insulted the nation in its hour of 
misfortune by their prodigality, and defied the regulations that 
forbade them to wear gold, silver, or fur on their garments or 
open hoods, or any other sort of ornamentation. 

As for widows, they found themselves unable to oppose the 
established custom. They therefore conformed to the regulation 
forbidding them to wear voilettes, crepines, and couvre-chefs. 
In like manner with nuns, they never appeared in public without a 
guimpe that entirely concealed the head, ears, chin, and throat. 
There seems, however, to have been no particular etiquette 
for the nobility as to mourning, before the reign of Charles V. 

We may endeavour to sketch the portrait of a lady as she 
existed in feudal times, by means of the scanty materials in our 
possession, for we have no paintings, and very few sculptures of 
the time, only a few learned writers who supply us with valuable 


We know, however, that the gowns of the fourteenth century 
were of the same shape as those of the thirteenth ; we also know 
that the Frenchwoman of the period began to discover the 
beauty of a small waist, and endeavoured to compress her own by 
means of lacing, and, finally, we know that, dating from the 
later years of the reign of Charles VI. a habit of uncovering 
the shoulders to an extent that at times became immodest was 

Their " couvre-chets " of silk were made by a special class 
of workwomen, called "makers of couv re-chefs." The couvre- 
chefs of Rheims were specially renowned. 

There were no milliners in Paris either in the thirteenth or 
the fourteenth centuries. The haberdashers, of whom I have 
already spoken, sold articles of dress, scents, and elegant finery. 
In the " Dit d'un Mercier " we find the following lines : — 

" J'ai les mignotes ceinturetes, 
J'ai beaux ganz k damoiseletes, 
J'ai ganz forrez, doubles et sangles, 
J'ai de bonnes boucles k angles ; 
J'ai chainetes de fer bfeles, 
J'ai bonnes cordes k vieles ; 
J'ai les guimpes ensafran^es, 
J'ai aiguilles encharnel^es, 
J'ai escrins h, metre joiax, 
J'ai borses de cuir h. noiax," ' etc. 

At mercers' shops, besides, ladies bought molekin, fine 
cambric, ruffs for the neck with gold buttons, the tressons or 
tressoirs that they were fond of twisting in their hair, and gold or 
pearl embroideries used for head-dresses, or for ornament generally, 
the silken or velvet gown being even bordered with them 

Lay figures, called " damoiselles," were used for fitting on 
ladies' dresses and other garments. 

A young Frenchwoman in the fourteenth century wore her hair 

' The mercer's list includes so many articles of which the names are 
obsolete, that it is not possible to translate it. 


twisted round her head, with a black ribbon ; a white dress 
embroidered in silver, bordered at the throat, shoulders, and 
elbows, and at the edge of the skirt with a fillet of gold. Small 
sleeves reaching from elbow to wrist were in red and white 
check, bordered with a double fillet of gold. Her shoes were 

Sometimes her hair was confined by a white veil, mingled with 
pearl- embroidered ribbon; at other times she wore a coronet of 
beads, and her hair flowed loose over her shoulders. She frequently 
appeared in a short sleeveless tunic, called "corset fendu." 
Frequently, too, her hair was parted simply in two, and the long 
plaits arranged on the forehead. To this she would add a " fron- 
teau," that is to say, either a tiara of beads or a circlet of gold. 
She made " atours " for herself, or pads stuffed in the shape of 
hearts, clubs, or horns. 

A young girl of high birth wore the arms of her family ; a 
married woman wore both her husband's and her own. Montfaucon, 
in his " Antiquites de la Couronne de France," gives us a drawing of 
an emblazoned gown belonging to a noble lady ; and in an ancient 
Bible we find a picture of a woman on whose hair is a ribbon of 
gold tissue, and above it a small yellow cap with gold buttons. 
The upper dress is bordered on the bosom with ermine and gold 
bands, the skirt is of silver cloth, bearing a lion rampant and three 
red stars. The under garment, of a dull yellow, is confined by a 
gold band. The National Library contains the miniature of a 
French lady of the fifteenth century. She wears a head-dress of 
silken material, the white upper gown is bordered with fur, the 
under garment is yellow, and ornamented at the throat with gold 
embroidery. The shoes are black. 

Long narrow white gowns without any ornament were worn by 
great ladies at home, when there was no occasion for ceremony ; 
and they remained in fashion for a considerable length of time. 
There were also short sleeveless garments like the " sarreaux," 
probably called " garnaches," and short ones with half sleeves 
called " garde-corps." 

Peasant women wore blue gowns, beneath which was a woollen 


petticoat bordered with velvet. Tlieir hats were of straw, and a 
becoming white guimpe encircled the face. 

Hoods or " aumusses " protected the head in bad weather. 
The chaperon or hood was much like a domino. It was made 
during the reign of Philippe le Bel in a peak, which fell on the nape 
of the neck, and was called a " cornette ;" there was an opening 
or " visagiere " for the face. As for the aumusse, made either 
of cloth or velvet, it resembled a pocket, and fell over on 
one side or other of the neck. On fine days ladies would carry 
their aumusse on their arm, as is done with a shawl or mantle. 

In " Le Parement des Dames," by Oliver de la Marche, the poet 
and chronicler of the fifteenth century, he mentions slippers, 
shoes (of black leather probably), boots, hose, garters, chemises, 
cottes, stomachers, stay-laces, pinholders, aumonieres, portable 
knives, mirrors, coifs, combs, ribbons, and "tcmplettes," so-called, 
because they encircled the temples and followed the edge of the 
coif with an undulating line. To these we must add the 
" gorgerette," gloves of chamois and of dogskin, and the hood, 
and we shall understand the *' under " dress of a noble lady in the 
earlier half of the fifteenth century. With regard to the "outer" 
dress, we must remember that the material nearly always bore 
a large brocaded pattern. The paternoster or rosary put a 
finishing touch to the costume. These rosaries were either of 
coral or of gold, and were considered as ornaments taking the 
place of bracelets. 

Notwithstanding legislative prohibitions and social distinctions, 
the desire of attracting attention led all women to dress alike. 
From this resulted a confusion of ranks absolutely incompatible 
with mediaeval ideas. 

St. Louis forbade certain women to wear mantles, or gowns 
with turned-down collars, or with trains, or gold belts. He wished 
that both in Paris and throughout his whole kingdom the 
distinction of class should be defined and obvious. 

Afterwards, in 1420, the Parliament of Paris renewed the same 
prohibitions with no greater success. It is said that women of 
high character comforted themselves by saying : " Bonne re- 


nommee vaut mieux que ceinture doree." ^ This, whether true or 
not, has passed into a proverb. 

A great number of jewellers existed in Paris in the four- 
teenth century. Yet real pearls were little known. The 
Government thought they had provided against every danger 
by forbidding the sale of coloured glass in the place of real stones. 
Trade with the Levant initiated us into the science of precious 
stones, and at first they were regarded with general reverence, 
supernatural virtues being attributed to them. People imagined 
that rubies, sapphires, and sardonyx produced certain marvellous 

The second period of the Middle Ages was full of artistic 
instincts, and beautiful castles and dwellings rose up on every side. 
Meanwhile, home life had become more refined in some classes of 
the population. 

Every man who had acquired wealth, or even a modest com- 
petence only, built himself a residence according to his taste, 
and frequently displayed magnificence far beyond his means. 
Dressers, cupboards, carved chests, ivory, bronze, enamelled 
copper, miniature statues, reliquaries, and a quantity of other 
articles, hitherto unknown, were to be seen in palaces and wealthy 
houses, and even in humbler abodes. 

But among the poor there was no such change. Their homes 
had remained the same for many centuries, their cottages and little 
enclosures of land were unaltered. These contained the barest 
necessaries only. Ypt a marked improvement was apparent in 
furniture and cooking-utensils. 

With greater comfort in their homes and with better furniture 
than in the past, both Frenchmen and Frenchwomen were making 
an onward progress in their mode of life and their social relations. 
In the towns as well as in the depth of the country, people met 
together of an evening to listen to a band of skilful minstrels — 
a sort of concert. On the eves of feasts the women sat together 
at their embroidery or the spinning-wheel. Long legends were 
narated, to the delight of family circles, and children were made 
- " Fair fame is better than golden belt." 




happy by little picture-books drawn expressly for their amusement, 
while maidens and youths would draw sweet music from their 


These assemblies naturally developed a taste for dress. The 
poet Eustache Deschamps speaks of the splendour of women's 
dress, of their crold and silver chains and belts, and of the little 
bells with which they adorned their garments. 





<fl c 








I3S0 TO 1461. 

Taste in dress becomes purer — Heart-shaped head-coverings, the "coniette," and the 
"hennin" in the reign of Charles VI. — Husbands complain — Preachers denounce^ 
Thomas Connecte declaims against the diabolic invention — Brother Richard tries to 
reform it— The "hennin" gains the victory — Costume of Jeanne de Bourbon — 
"Escoffion" — An absurd figure — Gravouere—Isabeau de Baviere — Gorgiasetes — Tripes 
— Splendour of the court— Agnes Sorel — " Coiffe adournee ;" diamonds; the carcan 
— Walking-sticks. 

It is a curious fact, of more frequent occurrence than might be 
imagined, but the terrible Hundred Years' War, which cost 
so much French and EngHsh blood, in nowise diminished 
women's passion for dress and fashion, whims and extravagance 
of all kinds. 

It must even be acknowledged that this melancholy period of 
our history was remarkable for the splendour of its fashions. 

From the time of the Capets there had been much variation in 
dress and in luxury. The taste of the nation was stimulated and 
improved by foreign importations. Emblazoned garments had 
become a thing of the past. 

In the reigns of Charles V. and Charles VI. especially caprice 
began to play an important part in the dress of women. The 
"beguins," or hoods, were changed at first into high heart-shaped 
head-gear, with two wide wings fastened to the head with wire 
and bearing a strong resemblance to the sails of a windmill. 
Next, the heart-shapes having been criticized by the clergy 
were transformed into " hennins," the nee plus ultra of fashion, 
and were of a most prodigious height. 

Very different from the masculine head-gear bearing the same 
name was the " cornette " or " hennin " worn by women. This 

E 2 


was a kind of two-horned head-dress, with horns about a yard 
high, which was introduced into France by Isabeau de Baviere, the 
wife of Charles VI. The " hennins " were made of lawn stiffly 
starched and kept in shape by fine wire, but were of less 
exaggerated size. 

Such a novelty was irresistible ; all the ladies eagerly copied the 
Queen, and vied with each other as to who should wear the most 
handsome head-gear, " peaked like a steeple," says Paradin, and 
the tallest horns. From these horns there hung like flags, crape, 
fringe, and other materials, falling over the shoulders. Such 
head-dresses were naturally very expensive, and husbands were 
loud in complaint. Matrons and maidens alike " went to great 
excesses, and wore horns marvellously high and large, having 
great wings on either side, of such width, that when they would 
enter a door it was impossible for them to pass through it." 
The height of the hennins was so great that a small woman 
looked at a distance like a moving pillar. 

In mourning, however, the cornette was rolled round the throat 
and thrown backwards. 

"Never, perhaps," observes Viollet-le-Duc, "did extravagance 
in head-gear reach such a pitch with the fair sex as during those 
melancholy years from 1400 to 1450; the hair itself formed but 
a small part of the head-dress ; hoods, couvre-chefs, chapels, horns, 
cornettes, hennins, twists, knots, fremillets, and chains were built 
up into the most extraordinary edifices." 

Yet It was far worse than all this in England, where eccen- 
tricity and caprice reached a height never attained at the Fretich 

Confessors in France, and monks especially, added their 
animadversions to those of grumbling husbands. They con- 
sidered the " hennin " as an invention of the Evil One, and 
a deadly warfare against the obnoxious article was soon 

In 1428 a Breton monk, named Thomas Connecte, preached 
throughout Flanders, Artois, Picardy, and the neighbouring 
provinces. He travelled from town to town, riding on a small 


mule and followed by a crowd of disciples on foot. On reaching 
his destination he said mass on a platform expressly prepared for 
him, then he preached against non-juring priests, the " hennins " 
of great ladies, and also against gamblers, calling upon the latter 
to burn their draught-boards and chess-boards, cards, ninepins, 
and dice. He called on children to help him, frequently shouting 
out the first, by way of example, " au hennin ! " whenever he 
caught sight of any woman wearing a high head-dress in the 
streets ; and if she failed to find a speedy refuge in some house she 
was soon covered with mud, dragged in the gutter, and sometimes 
severely wounded. 

Connecte was looked upon by the people as an admirable 
reformer, but he failed to reform the head-gear of women ; 
victory remained with the heimin. 

Another monk, a Franciscan, one Brother Richard, followed 
in the steps of Connecte the Carmelite. On the i6th April, 
1429, he began a course of sermons at the Abbey Church or 
St. Genevieve, which lasted till April 26th. He ascended the 
pulpit at five in the morning, and remained there until ten or 
eleven o'clock. He, too, endeavoured to reform the dress of 
women and their towering head-gear. His discourses occasioned 
some disturbances. After the tenth sermon Brother Richard 
received his dismissal from the Governor of Paris. 

It could not be said that the holy men preached in the desert, 
for wheresoever they lifted up their voices there were large 
audiences, and for a time the obnoxious hennins disappeared ; but 
only for a time. "The ladies," wrote Guillaume Paradin, the 
historian, " imitate the snails who draw in their horns, and when 
the danger is over put them out farther than ever ; and in like 
manner hennins were never more extravagant than after the 
departure of Brother Thomas Connecte." 

Finally, whether their husbands spoke on behalf of economy, or 
their priests appealed to the decrees of the Church, victory 
remained with the women. They only gave up the hennins from 
a caprice similar to that which had invented them. 

No one will expect to find Frenchwomen more constant or 


more economical in dress than their husbands. In the reign of 
Charles V., beauty had already asserted its claims, and coquetry 
filled the heart of women who sought for admiration. They 
gave up the fashions of the Middle Ages, and uncovered their 
bosoms ; in addition to hennins they wore padded head-dresses 
with horns, or pieces of stuff cut out and laid one upon the other 
like the petals of a flower. 

At the beginning of the fifteenth century, scalloped sleeves were 
attached to the corsets, or rather to the bodices, which were 
separated from the skirt behind, ending in a horizontal fold on 
the hips, while in front they were ungirdled, and reached down 
to the feet. These bodices were cut very low in the neck : the 
shoulders were slightly covered by a hood. 

Jeanne de Bourbon, the wife of Charles V., wore "royal 
robes wide and flowing, en sambues pontificales, that they call 
' chapes ' or copes, that is, mantles of gold or silk covered with 
jewels." The wives of barons wore earrings, " outrageous toes 
to their shoes, and they seemed to be sewn up in their too 
scanty garments." 

The expression "too scanty" was probably applied to the 
mantilla introduced by Queen Jeanne, and which was called a 
" corset." The mantilla reached to the waist both in front and 
behind; in winter it was made of fur, and in summer of cloth 
or of silk ; it had a sort of busk covered with gold braid, and 
matched in colour the borders of the surcoat, thus relieving the 
monotony of the lines as well as the sameness of colouring. 

Those ladies who wore trains to the skirts of their surcoats, used 
to tuck them up for walking. The surcoat, in fact, was very 
similar to a gown, and its dimensions soon became so enormous, 
that, as we learn from Christine de Pisan, a man-milliner of Paris 
made a " cotte hardie " for a lady in Gatinais, in which were five 
yards, long measure, of Brussels cloth. The train lay three- 
quarters of a yard on the ground, and the sleeves fell to the feet. 
This, no doubt, was an expensive costume. There were women 
whose surcoats were longer than themselves by a full yard. They 
were obliged " to carry the trains thereof over their arms, and 


there were long cuffs to their surcoats hanging to the elbows, and 
their busts were raised high up." 

The fashions of head-dresses changed from bare heads to 
crepines, and coifs with tow underneath, and stuffed " a I'escof- 
fion," a sort of padded beretta. The name " escoffion " became 
afterwards popularly used for the head-dress of the women of the 
lower orders, or the peasant-women, or that of women with their 
hair badly done. The fishwomen, when quarrelling, had a trick 
of tearing off each other's escoffions. 

At the same period, the most absurd adjuncts to dress were 
daily invented, causing that charming poet, Eustache Deschamps, 

to exclaim, — 

" Atournez-vous, mesdames, autrement, 
Sans emprunter tant de barribouras," ' &c. 

In the reign of Charles VI., the houppelande was the funda- 
mental article of women's attire, but passing from one extrava- 
gance to another, they at last adopted the strange fashion of 
giving an abnormal development to the front of the figure ! 
This continued in fashion for forty years. 

In the Charvet Collection there is an earring of the fifteenth 
century, ornamented with a polyedrus in incrusted purple glass. 
We still possess framed rings {bagues chevalieres) and other orna- 
ments of that period, and, in particular, one silver-gilt medal in the 
shape of a heart ; on the reverse the Virgin and St. Catherine 
are represented in mother-of-pearl. Enamelled gems were much 
in vogue among the nobility during the reign of Charles VI. 
There were also enamels of flowers, insects, domestic animals, and 
small ornamented human figures, initials, and mottoes. 

A little instrument was invented for parting the hair. It was a 
sort of stiletto or bodkin called a " gravouere," generally made of 
ivory or crystal, and sometimes mounted in gold. It remained in 
use as an article of the toilet during the whole of the Middle 


The custom of wearing bracelets and necklaces dates so far back 

' " Attire yourselves, mesdames, I pray, otherwise than in all those 
falbalas," &c. 


as the reign of Charles VI., when Isabeau de Baviere introduced 
the fashion of trinkets. They were called " gorgiasetes " in the 
language of the day, and it used to be said of persons whose dress 
exceeded the limits of decorum, that they dressed " gorgiasement." 
Isabeau also patronized very long trained gowns, and mantles 
with trains, carried by ladies'-maids or pages. 

This custom still prevails at court; likewise liveries of certain 
colours to distinguish all the household of great nobles. Liveries, 
which had already existed for several centuries, became much 
more prevalent in the reign of Charles VI. 

The " cotte hardie " was long and flowing, but was confined at 
the waist, partially revealing the outline of the figure. It was 
lined with rich fur. As the surcoat concealed the cotte everywhere 
except at the sleeves, the latter were tucked up very high by the 
wearers so as to display the valuable material of the " cotte 
hardie." They also made an opening in the surcoat in order 
to show the girdle. Sermons were vainly preached against the 
latter fashion. 

Isabeau de Baviere, the sovereign arbiter of dress, had fanciful 
tastes which became law to other ladies, both in the matter of 
head-gear and of toilet generally. 

There appeared successively the " tripe," a sort of light jockey 
cap made of knitted silk; the "atour," stuffed with tow; and, 
lastly, head-dresses of such towering height that the ceilings in 
the Castle of Vincennes, then a royal abode, were raised to 
enable the ladies to move about in comfort and safety. 

It was of course absolutely necessary to be beautiful, to 
attract admiration, to dazzle the crowd, to make use of every 
device to prove that universal homage was both deserved and 
obtained. To this end therefore the French ladies heaped orna- 
ment upon ornament. Beautiful prayer-books were in general 
use, and indeed formed an integral portion of fashionable attire ; — 

" Heures me fault de Nostre-Dame, 
Si comme il appartient h fame (femme) 
Venue de noble paraige, 
Qui soient de soutil (subtil) ouvraige, 


D'or et d'azur, riches et cointesj 

Bien ordonnees et bien pointes, 

De fin drap d'or tres bien couvertes ; 

Et quand elles seront ouvertes, 

Deux fermaux d'or qui femieront," - &c. 

These prayer-books were carried in cases suspended to the arm 
or waist. 

Until the reign of Charles VI. the under-garments of French- 
women were of coarse stuff or serge, that is, of woollen material. 

Isabeau de Baviere was the first to wear a linen chemise ; she 
possessed, however, two only. The fine ladies of the fifteenth 
century naturally imitated her, and in order to show that they wore 
linen under-garments, they made openings in their gown sleeves 
that the chemise might be seen ; they even opened their skirts on 
the hips in order to display the length of the chemise ; and they 
ended by having those garments made of fine linen only in 
the parts visible to the public, the rest was in coarse stuff or 
serge. Linen chemises were regarded as luxuries until the time 
of Louis XI. They were called " robes-linges." 

In the reign of Charles VI., the dress of servant-maids was 
generally composed of three pieces ; a bodice of one colour, a 
tucked up skirt of another, and a petticoat with a kilted flounce at 
the edge, such as are worn at the present time. The hair was 
covered with a kind of cap " a la musulmane." 

Such is the costume we find represented in the miniatures of the 
latter period of the fourteenth century. 

Every one knows what evil times had befallen our country 
under Charles VI. The English were masters of a great part of 
France, at the time that Charles VII. ascended the throne and was 
called in mockery " King of Bourges." That affront was wiped 
out by Joan of Arc. At that period, Fashion was confined for a 

' " My book of hours, those of Notre-Dame, I must have, 

And it shall be such as beseemeth noble dame of high lineage. 

Of subtle workmanship, gold and azure, rich and rare ; 

Well ordered and well shapen ; 

Covered in fine cloth, or in wrought gold, 

And when it is opened, to be closed again 

With two golden clasps," &c. 


long time within narrow limits ; but no sooner had France 
returned to her normal state, than the court of Charles VII. 
displayed a magnificence of which the sovereign set the example 
on the occasion of his entry into Rouen. He rode a palfrey 
caparisoned in blue velvet, embroidered with gold lilies, and the 
" chanfrein," or nose-piece, was of plates of solid gold with 
ostrich plumes. 

The beautiful Agnes Sorel was as much devoted to splendour as 
Isabeau de Baviere. Certain changes began to take place in 
women's dress. We meet with trailing gowns, high head-dresses 
in great variety, splendid stuffs, lace, gloves, mittens, rings, and 
necklaces, towards the middle of the fifteenth century ; and with 
sundry additions of a still more extravagant nature ; with conical 
hats of which our Cauchoises have retained the shape, and the 
" coiffe adournee," a cylinder or tube diminishing in size towards 
the top, where it either terminated in a flat crown, or curved over 
towards the back and hung down like a veil. 

Agnes Sorel, famous both for wit and beauty, acted as it were 
the part of a queen. All women were led by her in the matter of 
dress, and this brilliant creature, surnamed the " Lady of Beauty," 
began to adorn herself in the most magnificent costumes. If we 
may believe a chronicler of those times, her " train was a third 
longer than that of any princess in the kingdom, her head-gear 
higher, her gowns more numerous and costly," and her bosom bare 
to the waist. 

She is thus represented by a painter of the time, whose portrait 
of her may be seen in the Historical Gallery of Versailles. The 
fashions introduced by the " Lady of Beauty," were indecorous in 
other respects besides that of uncovering the shoulders. Display 
became excessive under her auspices; she was the first to wear 
diamonds in the hair, and it is said also that she first endeavoured 
to get them cut with facets. Her heavy and splendid diamond 
necklace she called " my carcan." ^ 

' The iron collar by which criminals were bound to the gibbet was called a 
'carcan." — Translator's note. 



Isabelle de Portugal wore a necklace from which hung a locket. 
The necklace was of pearls strung on gold thread. 

In the fifteenth century the scarlet coat of a duke or baron cost 
twenty livres the ell (about 400 francs of our coinage). Two ells 
and a half were necessary for a very sumptuous coat, which 
therefore cost 1000 francs; it lasted however for several years. 
Cloth of gold cost ninety livres the ell (1800 francs). 

This gives us some idea of the cost of clothes in general. 

Women's gowns required a greater quantity of material, because 
of their greater length. A lady who had neither page nor hand- 
maiden to carry her train, was obliged to fold it across her arm. 
Certain dresses, "a quinze tuyaux " (or fifteen-fluted), fell in 
stiff tubes round the skirt, like the pipes of an organ. On 
horseback women wore shorter gowns, called " robes courtes a 

Many women of rank carried at that period light walking-sticks 
of valuable wood, with handles ornamented with the image of a 
bird. In place of mittens they wore violet-scented gloves, which 
were, according to Olivier de la Marche, imported from Spain. 
Towards the end of the fifteenth century, kid and silk gloves were 
in fashion, with gold and silver embroidery on the back. It was 
indecorous to give one's hand gloved to any one, or to wear 
gloves for dancing. In France at the present time the contrary is 
our custom. 

Women made use of fans at church to disperse the flies. Their 
fans were ordinarily made of feathers, peacocks' feathers in 

The Queen of France astonished the Parisians by driving about 
among them in a swinging chariot of great splendour, that she had 
received as a present from the King of Hungary. For a long 
time she was the only woman in France who possessed such a 

The court was beginning to decree official costumes of 
ceremony. Fashion had now founded her absolute rule. 

During the whole of the Middle Ages fair hair alone was 
considered beautiful. On this point the French and the ancient 



Greeks were of one mind. Homer has described the fair hair of 
Aphrodite, Hera, and Pallas Athene ; in like manner our ancient 
poets describe their heroines as blonde beauties, and they invented 
the word " blondoyer," to become, or to grow fair-haired. This 
fashion must have led to the manufacture of enormous quantities 
of false hair. 











I461 TO 1515. 

Duchesses and bourgeoises under Louis XI. — "La grand 'gorre," or suniptuosity — The 
"troussoire" — Allegorical and moral costumes — Trains — -Head-dresses — "Collets 
rebrasses " — Wigs and false hair — Some results of the war in Italy — Italian fashions — 
"SoUerets" and slippers — Gorgets — Garters — ^Jean Marot writes against novelties — 
Anne of Brittany — Pins — Menot " the golden-tongued " — A Parisian in the time of 
Louis XII. — Coat h, I'ltalienne — Manufacture of stuffs. 

The Empire of Fashion was scarcely founded, ere it began to 
promulgate those despotic laws which have never been relaxed to 
the present day. 

The spread of luxury, art, and comfort, which became mani- 
fest at the dawn of the Renaissance, led to a sudden change 
in the whole character of costume. This fact has been commented 
on by all historians ; and can be verified and explained by the 
archives of the period. 

Although for the most part Louis XI. affected a great simplicity 
in his dress, and was fond of playing the "bourgeois," yet at 
times he desired to see his palace filled with nobles richly attired, 
and wearing magnificent stuffs, even of foreign manufacture. 
The astute sovereign appreciated the influence of fashion on 
commercial prosperity. 

Then commenced a competition in dress between the bour- 
geoisie of the towns and the nobility ; as says the poet, — 

" En Paris, y en a beaiicoup 
Qui n'ont d'argent, vergier, ne terre, 
Que vous jugeriez chascun coup 
Allie's aux grands chefs de guerre, 
lis se disent issus d'Angleterre, 
D'un comte, d'un baron d'Anjou, 


Parents aux senechaux d'Auxerre, 

Ou auxchatelains du Poitou, 

Combien qu'ils soient saillis d'un trou, 

De la cliquette d'un meunier, 

Voire ou de la ligne'e d'un chou, 

Enfans h. quelque jardinier . . . 

Une simple huissiere, ou clergesse 

Aujourd'hui se presumera 

Autant et plus qu'une duchesse ; 

Heureux est qui en finira ! 

Une simple bourgeoise aura 

Rubis, diamans et joyaux, 

Et Dieu sait si elle parlera 

Gravement en termes nouveaux ! " ' . . . 

Maillard, a preacher of the day, declaimed against "gorgeous" 
women (" femmes a la grand'gorre "), rebuking thera for their long 
trains, their furs, and gold ornaments. He sketched the portrait 
of a lawyer's wife dressed like a princess. Other preachers drew 
comparisons between the poverty of the people and the self- 
indulgence of fine ladies. " The poor," says one of them, " are 
dying of cold ; while you, Madame Pompous, Madame Boastful 
("la braguarde "), you have seven or eight gowns in your coffer 
that you do not put on thrice in the year." 

So long as the bourgeoises dressed above their station, it was 
naturally next to impossible that the female aristocracy should 
not endeavour to eclipse their humbler rivals. " The married 
ladies, and the young ladies at the court of Louis XL, no longer 
wore trains to their gowns, but they wore borderings of fur and 
of velvet, and of other materials the same width as velvet ; on 
their heads they wore round padded caps, with peaks half a yard 
in height — some more, some less — and fastened above these were 

' "There may be seen in Paris many who possess neither money, house, nor 
land, but whom you would take, at a glance, to be allied to the greatest chiefs 
and warriors. They say that they come from England, and are the issue of a 
count, or a baron of Anjou, and related to the seneschals of Auxerrc, or the 
lords of manors in Poitou. And for the most part they come from holes and 
corners, out of the loft of a miller, perhaps, or of the lineage of a cabbage, 
children of a gardener. The wife of a mere clerk, or a doorkeeper, presumes 
nowadays as much as a duchess. It would be well there should be an end 
of this ! You shall see a simple bourgeoise decked out with diamonds and 
jewels, and talking gravely, in good sooth, in all the new phrases." 


long veils reaching to the ground behind, with silken girdles four 
or five inches wide, with both the metal work and the tissue wide 
and gilt, and weighing six or seven silvern ounces ; and on their 
necks broad collars of gold of diverse workmanship." 

One side of their long skirts was held up by a " troussoire " or 
clasp. The troussoire consisted of a chain, of more or less value, 
which was attached to the girdle and to which a small scent- 
box, some keys, and a strong clasp for holding up the gown, 
besides other little articles, were suspended. 

Olivier de la Marche in his poem of " Le Triomphe des dames " 
(1464), recommended fine ladies to wear costumes of allegorical 
and moral significance, viz., slippers of humility, shoes of diligence, 
stockings of perseverance, garters of firm purpose, a cotte of 
chastity, a waistband of magnanimity, a pincushion of patience, a 
purse of liberality, a knife of justice, a ring of fliith, a comb of 
stings, a hood of hope, &c. 

He spoke in jest ; but Jean Juvenal des Ursins was in serious 
earnest, when in 1467 he told the States-General, " Another wound 
of the State lies in coats of silk ; and as to women, God knows 
how they are attired, in gowns of the said material, cottes, and in 
many and divers ways. In bygone days we have seen how 
damosels and other women, by merely turning up the edge of their 
dresses in a fashion called " profit," looked like handsome white 
cats ; nowadays they make these " profits " of silk material as wide 
as cloth, with great horns or high towers on their heads, or couvre- 
chefs of stuff or silk reaching to the ground. . . ." 

Dresses were now profusely trimmed with ribbons and cords ; 
and the mode of the silk corset separate from the skirt was 
adopted ; the gown was of Florence satin, open up the front, and in 
winter lined with badger's fur. By these means noble ladies 
marked the distinction between themselves and mere bourgeoises. 
A thin wooden busk in the front of the corset was called a " coche." 
Occasionally the chemise, artistically arranged, took the place of the 
corset, properly so-called, which had itself succeeded to the 
" bliaud.'' 

Towards 1480, women uncovered the neck very much in full dress, 


and " collets " or collars were worn turned downwards almost to 
the arms. These were called " rebrasses," and were often trimmed 
with fur. Villon mentions them in his " Grand Testament :" — 

" Dames h. rebrassez collets, 
De quelconque condicion " ^ . . . 

Working women going into the towns to sell their merchandise 
or their work, wore a white apron and a gown of cloth, serge, or 
woollen ; they were bareheaded, the hair being confined by a band 
on the forehead and hanging loosely behind. They imitated the 
bourgeoises in the make of their dresses, but refrained from trains. 

The fashion of hanging sleeves was succeeded by that of tight, 
close-fitting ones. Gowns were made with bodices laced up in 
front like the Swiss costume ; and the collars, sleeves, and edge of 
the skirt were bordered with a wide band of velvet ; the sleeves 
hung down to the ground. A girdle of velvet covered with gold- 
work fitted tightly to the waist. Another girdle called a " surceinte " 
embroidered with mottoes, initials, and even with heraldic arms, 
confined the outer garment. 

There were three kinds of head-gear, the pyramid, the truncated, 
terminated by a button, and the small " barillet," which was like a 
little barrel. Hats were more general under Charles VI. and 
Charles VII., and were worn at all times. 

Long hair, whether natural or false, was called a wig. Poets 
raised their voices against the false hair, which was worn over the 
forehead till it touched the eyes ; the ears were hidden by it, and 
the ends, reaching to the shoulders, were curled. The hair was 
either white, or of the bright yellow colour fashionable at the 
present day. An infusion of onion-skin was sometimes used as 
a dye. 

In the reign of Louis XI., French ladies " adorned " themselves 
with enormous head-dresses, three quarters of a yard in height, 
stuffed into various shapes, viz., a heart reversed, a shell, or a 
cushion, and covered with beads and precious stones. Doorways 

^ " Ladies with turned-down collars, 
Of whatever condition." 


were widened that ladies might pass through them. Montesquieu, 
writing on the subject, says that " architects have often been 
obliged to contravene the rules of their art as to the dimensions of 
entrances to our apartments, in order to bring them into proportion 
with women's adornments." 

The fashion of long hair and also of false hair lasted until the 
close of the reign of Louis XII. 

The admirable miniatures on the manuscripts of the fifteenth 
century certainly point to an improvement in head-dressing, as 
well as in attire generally. We learn from them that the sugar- 
loaf head-dress was in fashion during the whole of that century. 
It was ordinarily bordered in front with gold embroidery on 
black velvet. That portion of the dress vvhich covered the chest 
was of black velvet, embroidered in the upper part, and of gold 
tissue as far as the waist. The outer dress was of blue velvet, 
embroidered in gold, and lined and bordered with crimson velvet. 
The edge of the sleeves was of the same. The veil was white 
and transparent, the belt green, and sparkling with gold orna- 
ments. That part of the under-dress which was visible below 
was violet ; the shoes were black. 

Generally speaking, the train of a great lady was borne by a young 
girl. The head-dress of the latter was black or brown velvet. 

Our fair readers will remember that Charles VIII., son of 
Louis XI., made a warlike expedition into Italy, where the 
" French fury " was lavishly displayed. They are familiar, no 
doubt, with accounts of the entry of Charles VIII. into Florence, 
Rome, Capua, and Naples successively. "The discovery of Italy," 
an historian very justly remarks, " had turned the heads of the 
French ; they were not strong enough to withstand its charm. 
We use the right expression when we say ' discovery.' The 
companions of Charles VIII. were not less astounded than were 
those of Christopher Columbus." 

The Italians, on the other hand, greatly admired the agreeable 
manners of the French. As Charles VIII. made his progress 
through their country, they assumed the French mode of dress, 
and sent for all manner of finery from France. Victors and 



vanquished made mutual exchange of manufactured productions. 
The French, who still wore the striking costumes of the days of 
chivalry, excited eager curiosity wheresoever they went, and the 
greater the contrast between their garments and those of the 
Italians, the more did the latter delight in wearing the French 
fashions. They willingly exchanged their Genoese trinkets and 
jewels against the products of the Arras looms, if only from mere 
love of novelty. 

When the King of France had once more crossed the Alps and 
returned to his capital, the French ladies in their turn experienced 
the fascination that the soldiers of Charles VIII. had succumbed 
to in Italy. Their " heads were " likewise " turned," and their 
enthusiasm naturally had its efFect on the fashions of the day. 

Our fair countrywomen laid aside the sombre garments of the 
time of Louis XL, and began to wear the brightest colours, as well 
as several materials of Milanese or Venetian manufacture. Many 
Italian fashions were added to our national costume — viz. tight- 
fitting bodices, highly ornamented; very wide sleeves; white 
gowns trimmed with many-coloured fringes ; and black veils. 
The ladies would no longer wear the hennin, which had been so 
fashionable in the reign of Charles VI., and declared it was horrible. 

For poulaines " soUerets " were substituted ; these were rounded 
to the shape of the feet. Very light slippers were made in velvet 
or satin, of the same shape as soUerets ; and shoes, something like 
high pattens, that were worn over the slippers. " Nos mignonnes," 
says the poet Guillaume Coquillart, in " Les Droits Nouveaulx," — 

" Nos mignonnes sont si tr^shaultes, 
Que, pour paraitre grandes et belles, 
Elles portent pantoufles liaultes 
Bien h vingt et quatre semelles." ' 

Hose, or stockings, were composed of several pieces of stuff" 

sewed together. Chemises of woollen stuff were in general use. 

The "gorgerette "or gorget, a linen collar, either plain or plaited, 

' " Our fair ones are so grand, 
'I'hat to appear tall and fair, 
They must have high slippers 
Even with four-and-twenty soles." 


reached as high up as the collar-bones, and was worn over the 
" piece " or " plastron " of stufF that was laced across the chest. 
The " demi-ceint " was a small silken scarf, wound about the 
waist and fastened in front by a rosette. The " ceinture " was 
a wide ribbon, worn flat over the hips and ending in an angle 
on the skirt, where it formed a rosette with two floating ends. 

Among the accessories of dress were garters, either fastened by 
a buckle or simply tied. These were ornamented, in the fifteenth 
century, with mottoes or initials. Women also made use of 
pincushions, of purses in the shape of bags, of knives, of "rings" 
— meaning probably necklaces, and of paternosters or rosaries of 
gold, pearls, or other valuable materials. These were fastened to 
the knot of the girdle, and hung down in front of the gown. 
We have already mentioned these rosaries. 

In the reign of Louis XII., the successor of Charles VIII., the 
dress of women was but slightly changed. The upper gowns 
were made shorter, reaching only to the knees, and resembled a 
wide cloak or cape, cut low on the bosom. 

One great novelty was the shape of the sleeves, which in the 

upper gown remained wide and flowing, but those belonging to 

the under bodice consisted of several separate pieces fastened 

together by ribbons. We can picture to ourselves the elegant 

appearance of a sky-blue bodice, of a dark blue cloth gown, and 

of green sleeves in superfine cloth. Some women dressed in 

Genoese, or Milanese, or Greek fashion. The poet Jean Marot 

is unsparing in his criticisms on such women : — 

" De s'accoustrer ainsi qu'une Liicrece, 
A la lombarde ou la faejOn de Grfece, 
II m'est avis qu'il ne se peut faire 

" Garde-toi bien d'estre I'inventcre-sse 
D'habitz iiouveau.x ; car mainte pecheresse 
Tantot sur toy prendrait son exemplaire. 
Si a Dieu veii.'c et au monde complaire, 
Pone I'habit qui denote siniplesse 

' " To accoutre oneself like a Lucretia, 

A Lombard woman, or in Grecian fashion, 

F 2 


A considerable number of wealthy ladies began to frequent the 
court, attracted thither by the fascinating manners of Anne of 
Brittany, " the good queen," whose whims became a law, according 
to which all Frenchwomen regulated their dress, whatever might 
be their position in the social scale. 

It is worthy of remark that, at the close of the Middle Ages and 
during the first years of the Renaissance, brides wore red or 
scarlet on their wedding-day. 

Anne of Brittany was celebrated for the beauty of her leg and 
foot, and liked to wear her skirts short. Most women followed 
her example in that respect. 

For a long time past ladies had made use of pins, gilt pins 
even ; they now began to outstrip the bounds of moderation in 
their use. " Oh, ladies ! " exclaimed Michel Menot, the Franciscan 
monk, surnamed the Golden Tongue, " Oh, ladies ! who are so 
dainty, who so often miss hearing the Word of God, though you 
have only to step across the gutter to enter the church, I am 
certain it would take less time to clean out a stable for forty-four 
horses than to wait until all your pins are fastened in their places. 
. . . When you are at your toilet you are like a cobbler, whose 
business is to ' stop up,' and to ' rub,' and to ' put to rights,' and 
who needs a thousand different articles for bits and patches." He 
added : " A shoemaker's wife wears a tunic like a duchess." 

Vainly did the preacher thunder against pins. Fashion could 
not be in the wrong. Presumptuous were they who attacked her, 
for her partisans increased with the number of her opponents. 

We must now point out a change in the mode of wearing 

The former queens of France had worn white for mourning. 
On the death of Charles VIII., Anne of Brittany for the first 

It is my belief cannot be done 
With honesty. 

" Beware of being the inventress 
Of new attire, for many a sinner 
Might make thee her exemplar. 
If thou would please God and the world, 
Wear the dress that denotes simplicity 
In honesty." 


time wore black. She wore a white silk cord round her waist, 
and had a similar cord affixed to her coat-of-arms, knotted in four 
places and twisted into four loops, forming the figure of 8,® so as 
publicly to display her grief for the loss of so beloved a husband. 
Clement Marot, the son of Jean Marot, has given us the 
following sketch of a fiishionable Parisian lady in the time of 
Louis XII. : — 

" O mon Dieu ! qu'elle estoit contente 

De sa personne ce jour-li ; 

Avecques la grace qu'elle a, 

Ella vous avoit un corset 

D"un fin bleu, lace d'un lacet 

Jaune, qu'elle avoit faict exprfes. 

Elle vous avoit puis aprfes 

Mancherons d'escarlate verte, 

Robe de pers, large et ouverte. 

Chausses noires, petits patins, 
Linge blanc, ceinture houppee, 
Le chaperon faict en poupee. . 

Some commentary is needed on the above description to enable 
the reader to form an accurate idea of a fine lady in Marot's time. 

The " corset d'un fin bleu " must be rendered by " a bodice of 

the finest sky-blue." Instead of " mancherons d'escarlate," we 

must read, " brassards or sleeves of the finest possible quality," 

because the word " ecarlate," or scarlet, was used in those days to 

denote quality, not colour, as at present. The " chaperon faict 

en poupee " was a piece of stuff placed on the head-dress. 

* A cord twisted so as to form a figure of 00 was called a lac d'amour, or 
love-knot. — Translator's note. 

' " Heavens ! how satisfied she was 
With her good looks that day ! 
With all her dainty graces ! 
Look you, she had a bodice 
Of the finest sky-blue, laced 
With a lace of yellow, made for her. 
And then she had sleeves of green 
Of rich stuff, and a gown 
Both wide and open. 

Black hosen, little slippers, 

White linen, a looped girdle, 

And a fair kerchief on her head-dress." 


Sometimes, as we see by a manuscript in the National Library, 
French ladies would dress after the Italian fashion, that is, with a 
greater quantity of jewels, and without head-gear ; their hair 
being curled at the side, and plaits wound round the head. 

Although extravagance in dress had not yet reached the point 
which it afterwards attained under the chivalrous Francis I., yet 
it began to be universally displayed in both masculine and feminine 

At the privileged fairs, quantities of materials of more or less 
value were offered for sale. Bourges was so famous for its cloth, 
that wealthy purchasers frequently stipulated that their coats 
should be made in " fine Bourges cloth." Foreign manufactures 
of gold, silver, and silk entered France by way of Susa, when 
coming from Italy ; Spanish goods were sent by way of Narbonne 
and Bayonne, whence they were forwarded direct to Lyons, where 
they were unpacked and sold. The Paris ell was longer by one- 
half than that of Flanders, Holland, England, and other countries. 

Ordinary wool for women's garments was sufficiently plentiful 
in France. The finer cloths were generally manufactured from 
English and Spanish wools. Lower Brittany and Picardy sup- 
plied, it is true, a somewhat finer quality, which was used in 
the manufacture of certain cloths, and in particular for one called 
camelot. Linen-cloth was produced in considerable quantities, but 
was inferior in quality to the Dutch linen, which was much 
esteemed, and formed an important item in the trousseaux of 
young girls. 




^^'^i'C mRARY 

b-. LO 

U t2 








1515 TO 1545. 

The court of Francis I. — A speech of Charles V. — The king's liberality — Order of the 
Cordeliere — Word-paintings of the fashions of the day, ty Rabelais— Costumes of 
the seasons — Feather-fans — Sunshades — The " hoche-plis " or vertugadin — Mme. de 
Tressan saves her cousin's life — Satires and songs — JIdlle. de Lacepede — "Conte- 
nances" — Silk shoes with slashes — Head-dress called a " passe-filon" — Increase oflove 
of dress — The bean-flower — Artistic head-dresses — Twists of hair called rairaprenades — 
Ferronieres — Coaches in Paris ; their influence on the fashions. 

Under the gallant knight, Francis I., the court of France shone 
with a new and more refined splendour than that of the Middle 
Ages, and to this was added all the magnificence of Italian art. 
An eye-witness has described the court of Francis for us with 
characteristic and intelligent simplicity. Michael Suriano, the 
Venetian ambassador, makes the following remarks : — 

" His Majesty expends 300,000 crowns on himself and his court, 
of which 70,000 are for the queen. The king wants 100,000 
crowns for building abodes for himself Hunting, including 
provisions, chariots, nets, dogs, falcons, and other trifles, costs more 
than 1 50,000 crowns. Lesser amusements and luxuries, such as 
bouquets, masquerades, and other diversions, ioo,oco crowns. 
Dresses, tapestries, and private gifts cost as much more. The 
lodgings of the king's household, of the Swiss, French, and 
Scottish guards, more than 200,000. I am now speaking of men. 
As for the ladies, their salaries, it is said, amount to nearly 300,000 
crowns. Thus there is a firm belief that the king's person, his 
household, his children, and the presents he makes, cost yearly a 
million and a half crowns. If you saw the French court the sum 
would not surprise you. There are generally six, eight, ten, even 
twelve thousand horses in the stables. Prodigality is boundless ; 


visitors increase the expenditure by at least one-third, on account 
of the mules, carts, litters, horses, and servants that are necessary 
for them, and that cost more than double the ordinary prices." 

On his journey through France, Charles V. saw the treasury 
and the crown jewels. " There is a weaver of mine at Augsburg," 
he disdainfully exclaimed, " who could buy up all that ! " It is 
not the less true, notwithstanding the words of the envious 
Charles V., that the court of Francis displayed the utmost 
magnificence, and that the king himself lived in the midst of 
dazzling splendour. The court of this sovereign, nicknamed 
" Long-nose," or "Nosey" by the people, was a rendezvous for 
the pursuit of pleasure. 

Judging from prints of the time, the court of Francis I. 
difFered considerably from that of his predecessors. The ladies 
no longer took up their station near the queen exclusively, nor 
did the men remain by the king. The two sexes mingled to- 
gether at the daily receptions, and Francis I. formed a court in the 
true sense of the word. His liberality was very great ; he gave 
away presents of clothes far beyond any gifts of his predecessors. 
Brantome tell us that many ladies possessed wardrobes and coffers 
so full of clothes given them by the king, " that it was a great 

Women soon acquired extraordinary influence ; everything was 
in their hands, " even to the appointing of generals and captains." 
Ladies of the palace were nominated and lived at the Louvre. 
They belonged to an order of knighthood called the Order of " la 
Cordeliere," intended to reward the most prudent and virtuous 
women among the nobility. Francis I. almost invariably wore 
a very splendid costume, and was considered the finest gentleman 
in the kingdom. We are not concerned here with the numerous 
different fashions adopted by the king and his nobles, suffice it to 
mention that the " robes " of the gentlemen of the time were no 
whit less magnificent than those of the ladies, and that consequently 
there was a struggle for pre-eminence between the two sexes. 

Feminine dress was coquettish, and generally speaking, very 
graceful in ft)rm. Fran(^ois Rabelais, that encyclopedic writer 


who treated of every subject, whether serious or trifling, describes 
the fashions of his time in the following words : — 

" The ladies wore scarlet or crimson stockings, the said stockings 
reaching three inches above the knee, and the edge thereof finely 
embroidered or cut out. The garters were of the same colour as 
their bracelets, and fitted tight both above and below the knee. 
The shoes or slippers of crimson, red, or violet velvet, were 
snipped like the edges of a crab's claw. Over the chemise they 
wore a fine vasquine (corset) of rich silk camlet ; ou the vasquine 
they placed the vertugade (hoop) of white, red, salmon-coloured, 
or grey silk. Above this the cotte, in silver tissue, embroidered 
in fine gold needlework, produced a charming effect. Or, if it 
pleased them better, and was in accordance with the weather, their 
cottes were of satin, or damask, or of velvet, orange-coloured, 
salmon, green, grey, blue, light yellow, crimson, or white; or of 
gold cloth, silver cloth, or embroidery, according to the festivals. 
Dresses were made, according to the season, in cloth of gold 
crossed with silver, of red satin embroidered in gold canetille, of 
white, blue, and black silk, of silk serge or camlet, of velvet, of 
cloth, of silver, of drawn gold, or of velvet or satin with gold 
threads variously interwoven. In summer ladies sometimes wore, 
instead of dresses, graceful marlottes (or wrappers) of the afore- 
said stuffs, or bernes (sleeveless marlottes), after the Moorish style, 
in violet velvet ornamented at the seams with small Indian pearls. 
And at all times they wore the beautiful bouquet of feathers 
(or panache), according to the colour of their muffs, thickly 
spangled with gold." 

In winter, silk dresses of the colours just described were lined 
with costly furs. 

To complete the costume we must add rosaries, ornaments in 
goldsmith's work hanging from the girdle, rings, gold chains, 
jewelled necklaces, and carbuncles, balas rubies, diamonds, and 
sapphires ; finally emeralds, turquoises, garnets, beryls, pearls, and 
" unions d'excellence," as Rabelais says. 

That great man almost seems to have written expressly in order 
to give us these details of Parisian dress. He omits nothing. 


neither shape, nor price, nor colour. He instructs us as to tht 
fashions of each season ; he mentions fans, and " eventoirs '' in 

We observe, however, that there is no mention of autumn 
fashions in his interesting description. We must infer, therefore, 
that the fall of the year was included half in the summer and half 
in the winter season, and that the ladies of the sixteenth century 
were as yet unacquainted with that refinement of fashion at the 
present day, the autumn costume. 

Umbrellas, which at first were ill-made, did not " take " in 
France. They were considered inconvenient things. " There is 
no season more inimical," says Montaigne, " than the burning 
heat of a hot sun, for the umbrellas that have been used in Italy 
from the time of the ancient Romans, fatigue the arm more than 
they relieve the head." 

Head-prear varied with the seasons. In winter it was worn 
according to the French, in spring to the Spanish, in summer 
to the Turkish fashion ; except on Sundays and festivals, when 
women covered their heads in the French style, as being more 
honourable and more suggestive of " matronly chastity." On those 
occasions they generally wore a velvet hood with hanging curtain. 

The cap of the women of Lorraine consisted of a piece of stuff 
wound about the head in cylinder shape ; that of the Basque 
women resembled a horn of plenty upside down, it was made of 
white lawn trimmed with ribbon ; and that of the Bayonne 
women was a " guimpe " arranged like a turban, with a little 
peak or horn in the front. 

The greatest innovation in feminine costume was the appear- 
ance of the vertugadin, or hoop, in 1 530. Dresses were stretched 
over wide, stiff petticoats mounted on hoops of iron, wood, or 
whalebone. A band of coarse linen, supported by wire, lifted 
them up round the waist. 

It is said that Louise de Montaynard, the wife of Francois de 
Tressan, contrived, by the aid of her hoop, to save the life of her 
cousin, the brave Due de Montmorency. The duke was 
hard beset by a great number of the enemy in the town of Beziers. 


Louise bade him hide under her huge bell-shaped hoop, and thus 
saved him from the vengeance that threatened him. 

The fashion of wearing three gowns, one over the other, shows 
the prejudices of the time with respect to distinctions in dress: — 

" Pour ime coUe qu'a la femme du bourgeois, 
La dame en a sur soy I'une sur I'autre trois, 
Que toutes elle faict egalement paroistre, 
Et par la se faict plus que bourgeoise cognoistre."' 

Songs and satires against " vertugadins " abounded. The 
" Debat et Complainte des Meuniers et Meunieres a I'Encontre 
des Vertugadins" appeared in 1556, and the " Blason des 
Basquines et Vertugales, avec la Remontrance qu'ont faict quelques 
Dames, quand on leur a remontre qu'il n'en falloit plus porter," in 
1563. Next came the " Plaisante Complainte . . .," by Guillaume 
Hyver, beginning as follows: — 

" Ung temps fut avant telz usaiges, 
Lorsque les femmes estoient sages. . . ." - 

This epigram was quickly answered : — 

" La vertugalle nous aurons, 
Maulgre' eulx et leur faulse envic, 
Et le busque au sein porterons ; 
N'est-ce pas usance jolye ?"' 

Charles IX., Henri III., and Henri IV., all issued edicts against 
the hoop. But far from disappearing, it became more and more 
generally worn. Little shopkeepers imitated the great ladies ; and in 
the " Disco urs sur la Mode," published in 161 j, we read as 
follows : — 

" Le grand vertugadin est commun aux Francoises, 
Dont usent maintenant librement les bourgeoises, 

' " I-"or one coat that the wife of a bourgeois wears 
The great lady puts on three, one over the other ; 
.\nd letting them all be seen equally, 
She makes herself known for more than a bourgeoise." 
' " There was a time, before these customs, 

Wlien women were wise." 
' " The ' vertugal ' we will have, 

Spite of them and their false envy ; 
And the busk at the breast we will wear ; 
Is it not a pretty usage ? " 


Tout de mesme que font les dames, si ce n'est 
Qu'avec un plus petit la bourgeoise paroist ; 
Car les dames ne sont pas bien accommod<fes 
Si leur vertugadin n'est large dix coudees." ■* 

In Paris, the royal edicts against hoops had fallen into 
disuse, but in the provinces certain parliaments had maintained a 
merciless severity. It is recorded that at Aix a Demoiselle de 
Lacepede, the widow of the Sieur de Lacoste, having been accused 
before the court of wearing a hoop of seditious width, appeared 
before the counsellors and gave her word of honour that the 
" exaggerated size of her hips, which was the cause of complaint, 
was simply a gift of nature." The judges laughed, and she was 

The fashion of vertugadins was especially pleasing to women 
of humble birth, who also wore hooped gowns, and thus, like 
high-born dames and maidens, attained a likeness to pyramidal 
towers or gigantic beehives. This extraordinary whim of fashion 
was destined to reappear, with various modifications, at difFerent 

MufFs, like those of the present day, were already used by 
women of rank. They were called " contenances." Long gold 
chains, or cordelieres, were twisted in the waistband, and fell 
almost to the feet. 

The women vied with the men in splendour of dress. At 
court or in town they wore an under-skirt, showing below the 
gown, which was made with pointed bodice, the skirt widely 
opened in front, with narrow sleeves to the elbow, where they 
suddenly widened, and were bordered with lace or fur. The 
bodice was cut low, disclosing a collerette of fine open-worked 
cambric or of lace. 

Silk and satin shoes were still in fashion, widely opened on the 

* " The large vertugadin is common to all Frenchwomen ; 
The bourgeoises wear it freely now, 
Just the same as the great ladies, if it be not 
That the bourgeoise is content with a smaller one ; 
For the great ladies are not satisfied 
With a vertugadin less than five yards wide." 


instep, which, it must be owned, was not conducive to the 

elegance of the foot. Some ladies preferred slashed shoes. 

But if there was little change in shoes, there was much in the 

fashion of head-dresses. Small rounded coiffures in satin or 

velvet, forming a harmonious frame to the face, succeeded to the 

ancient head-gear; or else graceful turbans, whose delicate softness 

could be perceived beneath a network of pearls or precious stones. 

The head-dress " a la passe-filon," dating from the time of 

Louis XI., retained its place : — 

" Les cheveu.\ en passe fillon, 
Et I'oeil gay en e'merillon," ' 

says Clement Marot. 

The hair was sometimes worn in curls round the face, and 

falling on the neck. Many women, however, imitated Marguerite 

of Navarre, by wearing ringlets on each side of the temples, and 

drawing back the hair above the forehead. Wire pins were first 

imported from England about 1545 ; before this invention ladies 

made use of extremely fine and flexible wooden pins or skewers. 

We have already mentioned these. 

There were, in fact, two distinct periods in the fashions under 
Francis I. 

From 151 5 to 1526 feminine attire was still influenced by the 
Middle Ages, not only as regards form and cut, but also as to 
colouring, which was somewhat grave. Ladies were averse to 
low dresses, nor did they care for any fanciful trimmings. Some 
few even abstained from jewels and diamonds; their dress was 
graceful, but without studied elegance. 

From 1530 to 1545, on the contrary, tastes wholly changed. 
Women began to wear necklaces and beads, light-coloured stuff^s, 
and rich trimmings ; they became accustomed to baring the bosom 
and shoulders, and the habit grew yet more upon them. Dress 
became a mass of small details, and women were ingenious in 
contriving not to omit one of the thousand trifles intended to add 
to their attractions. 

In one word, coquetry began to wield its exclusive sway over 

' " Netted hair and hawk-bright eye." 


the actions of women. To please became their only business. 
They used perfumes of all sorts — violet powder, Cyprus powder, 
civet, musk, orange flower, ambergris, rosemary, essence of roses. 
They refreshed their complexions with an infusion of the bean- 
flower, and washed with musk soap. 

In the latter part of the reign of Francis I., feminine head-dresses 
assumed a thoroughly artistic character, of almost exaggerated 
grace. The Church and certain writers began to murmur, but 
with as little eff^ect as in the fifteenth century. A book entitled 
" Remontrance Charitable aux Dames et Damoiselles de France 
sur leurs Ornements dissolus," implored women to renounce their 
" twists of hair," which the author calls " ratrapenades.". Another 
work, " La Gauleographie," thundered against the indecency of 
plaits ; and a pamphlet, " La Source d'Hoiineur," bestowed good 
advice on women, which they were careful not to follow. 

La belle Ferroniere invented the head-dress which bore her 
name. A skull-cap of velvet or satin, splendidly embroidered, was 
set amidst curls that only reached to the shoulders. A narrow 
ribbon, or chain, in the centre of which was fixed a jewel or 
ferroniere, passed across the brow and was fastened in a large 
knot at the back of the head. 

Another style of head-dress formed the hair into bands half 
concealed by lappets falling over the cheeks and a veil ; the folds at 
one end were gathered together into a golden tulip terminating in 
a cluster of precious stones. The art of the goldsmith was thus 
combined with that of the hairdresser, and the most celebrated 
beauties adorned themselves in every conceivable way. 

They must have dreaded, especially after nightfall, the numerous 
thieves abounding in the capital. Fancy going on foot so dazzlingly 
arrayed 1 

It is well to bear in mind that in the time of Francis I. there 
were but three coaches in all Paris : one belonged to Queen Claude 
of France, adaugher of Louis XII. ; another to Diane de Poictiers, 
who at the age of thirty-two had lost her husband, Louis de Breze, 
Count de Maulevrier, High Seneschal of Normandy, and who 
always wore the widow's garb even in the days of her greatest 


prosperity ; and the third to a gentleman named Rene de Laval, 
who could not mount on horseback on account of his enormous 

Our ancestors had nothing to fear from blocks of carriages, nor 
from the mud by which we are often splashed in crowded streets. 

At the end of the fifteenth century, Gilles le Maitre, High 
President of the Paris Parliament, executed a contract with his 
farmers, by which the latter were bound " on the eves of the four 
great festivals of the year, and at the time of the vintage, to 
provide him with a covered cart, with good clean straw inside, 
in which his wife, Marie Sapin, and his daughter, Genevieve, 
could be comfortably seated, and also to bring a foal and a she-ass, 
on which their serving-women should ride, while he himself 
should go first, mounted on his mule, and accompanied by his 
dog, who would follow him on foot." 

Truly a humble conveyance for the wife of a High President, 
who himself rode modestly on a mule ! 

If we examine the prints of the time of Henri IV., we shall be 
at a loss to conceive how such very smart personages could pass 
through the streets on foot, and with Brantome, we shall begin to 
admire Marguerite de Valois's litters, as represented by the artists 
of that period, "heavily gilt, and splendidly covered and painted 
with many fine devices, and her coaches and carriages the same." 

The succeeding century witnessed great changes. The wife of 
the High President, Christophe de Thou, was the first French- 
woman, not a princess, to whom permission to possess a carriage 
was granted. The bourgeoises long envied her that delightful 
privilege ! 

It is difficult to understand how ladies, dressed in the costumes 
handed down to us by artists of the time, contrived to get into 
their litters. These must have been very roomy, and much like 
our modern closed carriages. It is true, however, that a litter was 
used by one person only. 

The use of carriages has contributed to the development of 
fashion, for by their means ladies in very light attire are enabled 
to go long distances, from one house to the other, without danger 



from exposure to the weather, and without attracting the attention 
of thieves. 

Hence, from the first appearance of coaches to the elegant 
carriages of our own day, a particular style of dress has existed, 
suitable only for persons possessing equipages, and ridiculous 
when worn by pedestrians through rain, mud, and dust. 










c -^ 

THE NE'^\' '^^^^ 

2 o 





CO (D 



1547 TO 1558. 

Fashions under Henri II.— The ruff — A satirical print of the time — Catherine de Medicis 
eats soup — The Italian taste — Regulations for dress — Crimson — Who shall wear silk ? — 
Lines on velvet, by Ronsard — Rotonde — "Collet monte" — Spring- water — Style of 
gowns and head-dresses — Wired sleeves — Girdles— Caps, bonnets, and hoods — The 
" touret de nez " — The " coffin a roupies " — Shoes — A quotation from Rabelais. 

The taste for display had received an irresistible impulse; dress 
was a fascinating pursuit, and one well adapted to our manners 
and customs. In the reigns succeeding to that of Francis I. there 
•was neither a reaction, nor any very remarkable novelty. 

The principal characteristic of feminine attire, however, in the 
time of Henri II. was the amplitude of skirts and sleeves. Cos- 
tumes were alternately either of extreme splendour, or of a grave, 
not to say sombre appearance. It has been observed : " The 
sixteenth century offers a curious mixture of very striking and of 
very simple costumes." 

Catherine de Medicis, the wife of Henri II., who was an 
Italian, introduced " ruffs " into France. 

, The ruff was a sort of double collar, in stiff goffered plaits. 
It completely encircled the throat, and sometimes rose above the 
ears. Ruffs became immensely fashionable, both for men and 

A print of the time proves this. It represents a shop in which 
three grotesque figures are starching and ironing ruffs. A lady, 
seated, is having her own ironed, and a gentleman is bringing 
others. Death is seen on the threshold of the shop, on the right. 
On the margin there are half a dozen inscriptions in German and 

r G 


French against the fashion of wearing ruffs. Beneath the engraving 
are four German and four French Hnes, of a highly satirical 
nature : — 

" Hommes et femmes empesent par orgueil 
Fraises longues pour ne trouver leur pareil ; 
Mais en enfer le diable souffiera, 
Et a bruslerles ames le feu allumera."' 

Brantome, the historian, relates an amusing anecdote concerning 
the starched ruffs. He tells us that on one occasion M. de 
Fresnes-Forget, in conversing with Queen Catherine, expressed his 
surprise that women should wear such deep ruffs, and affected to 
doubt that they could eat their soup when thus attired. 

Catherine laughed. The next moment a valet handed her a 
bouillie for collation. The queen asked for a long-handled spoon, 
ate her bouillie easily and without soiling her ruff, and then said, 
" You see. Monsieur de Fresnes, that with a little intelligence 
one can manage anything." 

French ladies copied the Italian fashions in their dress, but with 
more grandeur and magnificence. The influence of the Renais- 
sance still prevailed, and art regulated the style of dress to a con- 
siderable extent. There was little change in the actual shape of the 
garments worn, more especially among the middle classes. 

It became necessary to restrict foreign importation, in order 
not to crush our home manufactures, and Henri II. also thought 
it right to issue edicts with reference to propriety of attire, and 
to the diversity of ranks as indicated by dress. Laws were even 
passed concerning the quality and colour of stuffs. 

Thus, no woman, not being a princess, might wear a costume 
entirely of crimson ; the wives of gentlemen might have one part 
only of their under dress of that colour. Maids of honour to the 
queen, or to the princesses of the blood, might wear velvet gowns 
of any colour except crimson; the attendants on other princesses 

" " Men and women out of pride 

Starch their long ruffs until they find no equal ; 
But in hell the devil will blow (the bellows), 
And the fire will be lighted to burn souls." 


were restricted to velvet, either black, or tanne^ viz. an ordinary 
red, not crimson. 

The wealthy bourgeoises, without exception, longed to wear 
the forbidden material, and thus to vie with the great ladies ; but 
their ambitious desires were necessarily thwarted, and the law only 
allowed them velvet when made into petticoats and sleeves. 

Working-women were forbidden to wear silk. This was an 
extremely expensive material, and women would make any 
sacrifice to procure it. 

But as we have already remarked, nothing is so difficult of 
application as a sumptuary law. The wives of gentlemen, of 
bourgeois, and of artisans were loud in complaint. 

Then was the lawgiver moved with compassion, and gave 
permission for bands of goldsmith's work to be worn on the head, 
for gold braid as borderings to dresses of ceremony, for necklaces 
and belts of the same precious metal. 

He allowed working-women to trim their gowns with borders 
or linings of silk ; and silk was also allowed for false sleeves, the 
whole dress only of such costly material was forbidden. 

But just in proportion as the relaxation of the first rigorous 
enactments was reasonable and right, so did the authorities show 
themselves stern and severe towards those women who ventured 
to transgress the king's commands. 

Ronsard, the poet, exclaims admiringly, like the clever courtier 
he was : — 

" Le velours, trop commun ea France, 
Sous toi reprenrt son vieil honneur ; 
Tellement que ta remontrance 
Nous a fait voir la difference 
Du valet et de son seigneur, 
Et du muguet charge de soye, 
Qui k tes princes s'esgaloit, 
Et, riche en drap de soye, alloit 
Faisant flamber toute la voye. 
Les tusques ingdnieuses 
Jk trop de volouter s'usoyent 
Pour nos femmes delicieuses, 
Qui, en robes trop precieuses, 
Du rang des nobles abusoyent. 
G 1 


Mais or la laiiie mesprisee 
Reprend son premier ornement ; 
Tant vaut le grave enseigiiement 
De ta parole autorisde."' 

Starched and plaited linen rufFs, or " rotondes," were first worn 
in this reign, also Spanish capes and " collets montes." 

The proverbial expression, a " collet monte," was applied then 
as now to persons who affected great gravity of manner. It owes 
its origin to the severity of the Spanish dress, which was adopted 
in certain quarters in France. 

Catherine de Medicis, who deemed it incumbent on her to 
grieve unceasingly for her royal husband, manifested her sorrow 
by means of the widow's dress she habitually wore. Her costume 
was remarkably austere. It consisted of a sort of cap, with the 
edge bent down in the middle of the forehead, a collerette with 
large gofferings, a tightly-fitting buttoned bodice, a wide plaited 
skirt, and a long mantle with " collet montant," or high stand- 
up collar. 

This simplicity of dress on the part of the queen-mother formed 
an exception to the boundless caprices of the ladies who formed a 
brilliant court circle around Catherine de Medicis. While con- 
fining herselt to black, she made no objection to the splendid 
attire of her companions. Coquetry reached to the highest pitch. 
The beautiful Diana of Poitiers preserved her beauty by bathing 
her face, even in winter, in spring water. This heroic practice 

■ " Velvet, grown too common in France, 

Resumes, beneath your sway, its former honour; 

So that your remonstrance 

Has made us see the difference 

Between the servant and his lord, 

And the coxcomb, silk-bedecked, 

Who equalled your princes, 

And rich in cloth of silk went glittering 

On his way, showing off the bravery of his attire. 

I have more indulgence for our fair women 

Who, in dresses far too precious. 

Usurp the rank of the nobles. 

But now, the long-despised wool 

Resumes its former station." 


did not come into general use, notwithstanding its supposed 

The form of women's attire and head-dresses in the reign of 
Henri II. was really admirable. There can be no more complicated 
needlework thati that employed on the bodice of a dress as repre- 
sented in an engraving of 1558. It is trimmed with two little 
epaulettes, and is made with a basque barely three inches in depth, 
and far from being " decollete," it is high to the throat, like a 
man's jacket (sayon). 

Occasionally the fair wearer threw this bodice open, in order 
to show the pourpoint or vest underneath, and generally it 
was also slashed either in front or behind, or on the shoulders. 
By this means it looked less thick, and kept the chest less 

The sleeves harmonized perfectly with the gown, particularly 
with the bodice. They were not wide, though ten years pre- 
viously they had been puffed, but were slashed like the bodice. 
They diminished in size from the shoulder to the wrist, and were 
slashed from top to bottom. They were frequently trimmed with 
beads, and still more frequently with silk riband. 

Certain ladies of high birth ornamented them with " fers," or 
delicate pieces of goldsmith's work, not unlike metal buttons. 

A curious appendage to the costume of the most fashionable 
ladies, such as we are now describing it, existed ; behind the 
sleeve there falls straight down a false sleeve or " mancheron," 
fastened to the epaulette. We have already mentioned these. 

The high collerette, detached from the bodice and embroidered 
or goff"ered, was attached to a light cambric handkerchief covering 
the throat, hence its name " gorgias," from " la gorge," the throat. 

When ladies preferred a low-cut bodice, they would wear with it 
a very large " gorgias," covering the shoulders and neck, and of 
such material as to add to the beauty ot the costume. 

Skirts were plain, and slightly open in front, A girdle, knotted 
at the waist, fell gracefully from the peak or point of the bodice, 
in front, down to the bottom ot the skirt, or was worn hanging 
from the side, like the rosary of a nun at the present day. 


Exquisite lace, imported from Venice, completed the adorn- 
ment of feminine costume, and made it of immense value. 

Various styles of head-gear were in fashion, and were worn 
without distinction by persons in all ranks of society. There 
were caps, bonnets, and hoods. 

The hair was first kept in its place by a little bag called a " cale," 
and then the head-dress was put on. Cales remained in use 
for a long time, and young girls of the class known as " the 
people " were subsequently called by the name. 

The cap was toque-shaped, and generally of velvet, with a white 
feather over the right ear. The constant movement of the feather, 
waving in every breeze, produced a charming effect, and conferred 
on the fair wearers a little cavalier air that poets have frequently 
sung, and that modern novel-writers have not overlooked. 

Hats, which seem to have been less generally worn than caps 
or hoods, were usually of oval shape. They were high with wide 
brims, and were made in rich materials, or in very fine felt. 

Hoods (a favourite head-dress of Catherine de Medicis) were 
also generally preferred by Parisian women, and were very like 
those of modern times. They were made of velvet, cloth, or silk, 
with deep fronts, strings, and a curtain. By a royal edict, velvet 
hoods were forbidden to all except " the ladies of the court ;" on 
which the bourgeoises ingeniously concealed the velvet under gold 
and silver embroidery, or a mass of beads and jewels. 

The coif suggested the ancient shape of the hood, of which 
we shall speak hereafter. It was padded, and had a short veil 
falling down at the back. 

" For going out in cold weather," observes M. Jules Quicherat, 
" a square of stuff was fastened to the strings of the hood, and 
covered all the face from the eyes downwards, like the fringe of a 
mask." This was called either a " touret de nez," or a " cofBn a 
roupies," according to the humour of the satirists, whose jests, 
however, did not prevent ladies from wearing it. 

We must add that ladies also wore capes with hoods in the 
severe cold of winter. 

Nor must we omit the question of clothing for the feet. This 



is one of the most important parts of dress, and the woman with 
the prettiest shoes will generally be found the most graceful in 
other respects. Ladies wore shoes and slippers, both adapted 
for indoor wear only, and quite unsuited for the hard stones 
and thick mud of Paris. In the streets there were but few 
coaches or litters, and so ladies wore pattens with cork soles, over 
their shoes or slippers, to protect them from cold and damp. 


'559 1° 1560. 

The earliest queens of fashion — Mary Stuart's costumes ; her jewels — Description of bodices 
and sleeves of that period — Crosses — The "loup" or small mask — Coiffure "en 
raquette" — An anecdote concerning high heels— Regulations respecting fashion — Remark 
of a lady of our own day on distinctions in dress— Exordium of the Edict of July 12, 1549 
— Maximum of marriage portions — The first knitted silk stockings. 

Women of celebrity exercise a great influence on dress in general; 
and certain historical personages of the sixteenth century gave 
laws on the question of Fashion. Whether their celebrity over- 
ruled the caprices of their contemporaries, or whether their perfect 
taste compelled the approbation of the dandies and fine ladies of 
their time, certain it is that their portraits are typical, and could 
we be shown any of the costumes in which they have been painted, 
the original wearers would immediately be suggested to us. 

Such a celebrity was Mary Stuart, niece to the Guises, and 
wife of Francis II., whose misfortunes and tragical fate have made 
her a deeply interesting character. 

There existed, only a few years ago, among the rare books, 
manuscripts, and prints in the library of St. Genevieve, in Paris, 
two sketches in coloured chalk, being probably copies of portraits 
of the Queen of Scots, painted from life by the famous Franrois 
Clouet, about the year 1558. 

Those sketches, among many others, have been removed from 
St. Genevieve to the National Library, where they are less easy of 
access to the public than they formerly were in the less pretentious 
establishment of the Place du Pantheon. 

Let us picture Mary Stuart in her youth, and again in her 
widow's garb. Nothing can surpass the purity and delicacy of 


outline in those two portraits. Calm intelligence sits on her brow, 
and shines from her dark eyes. Her head is dressed in the Italian 
fashion, as was then the custom at court ; a high collerette encircles 
the throat, round which is a pearl necklace. 

On the day of her marriage with Francis II., the beautiful queen 
wore a gown of dark blue velvet, " covered with jewels, and white 
embroidery of beautiful workmanship, so that it was admirable to 
see." Two young ladies, standing behind her, bore her long train. 
On her head she wore so splendid a coronet of jewels, that it was 
valued by many persons at 300,000 crowns, about 1,800,000 
francs of our present money. 

At balls, the queen of Francis II. wore a train nearly twelve 
yards in length ; it was borne after her by a gentleman. Nothing 
could be more majestic than the royal mantle thrown over the 
gown on occasions of ceremony. Mezeray describes Mary Stuart 
as wearing a rufF open in front and standing high behind. Her 
hair is arranged in two curls that only cover part of the ear; her 
crown is placed on a wide and starched coif, coming down on the 
forehead, and widening at the sides. She was fond of jewels. 
When, on the death of Francis, she was setting out for Scotland, 
her uncle, the Cardinal de Guise, suggested that she should leave 
her jewels behind, until he could send them to her by some safe 

" If I am not afraid for myself," said Mary Stuart, " why should 
I fear for my jewels ? " 

But we must now leave individual history, in order to continue 
our account of feminine attire in general. At the period of which 
we are now treating, the shape of dresses was extraordinarily 
elegant, and they have often been cut on the same outlines since, 
in the varying phases of French Fashion. It will be observed that 
the bodice is generally provided with epaulette«, and with a basque 
two or three inches in depth. It was usually worn high up to the 
throat, and opened sometimes between the throat and the waist, 
in order to display the under-garments, especially a waistcoat or 
" pourpoint " of handsome material. Sleeves were moderate in size, 
and became narrower as they approached the wrist ; they were 


drawn in at equal distances so as to torm pufFs, and thus were not 
unlike the leg-of-mutton sleeves in fashion at the Restoration. 
Occasionally the bodice was slashed, and the openings of both 
bodice and sleeves were drawn together by knots of pearls, or the 
" fers," of which we have already spoken. An embroidered or 
goffered collerette stood up round the throat ; it was attached to a 
cambric handkerchief, that still bore its old name of " gorgias." 
When low bodices were worn, the gorgias covered the shoulders 
and neck. 

Gowns of silk or velvet, of light or dark tint, and gowns of 
crimson Genoa velvet, were opened in front, over an underskirt of 
some pale colour. The opening, beginning in a point at the 
waist, became gradually wider, somewhat in the shape of a pyramid. 
A girdle of beads or gold hung from the waist, and was often 
connected with ornaments of the same nature trimming the bodice. 

With a standing-up collerette there was no need of a necklace. 
But with low-cut bodices, ladies wore pearl or gold necklaces, from 
which was usually hung a valuable cross. At the present day 
also crosses are very frequently worn. In a certain collection there 
is a necklace of the sixteenth century, composed of six cameos of 
tragic and comic heads. 

We must add that there were ladies who wore necklaces even 
with standing-up ruffs, as may be observed in the fourth figure of 
our engraving, which gives the costume of a French lady in the 
suite of Mary Stuart. 

The wives of nobles and of great merchants used both rouge 
and white paint on their faces, and some of them adopted the 
" loup," or small black velvet mask, to preserve their complexion 
from sunburn. Masks received the name of loup, or wolf, be- 
cause at first young children were frightened by them. 

The head-dress of the period was the "cale," or little bag in 
which women imprisoned their hair, and above tliis they placed a 
cap or toque with white feathers. They retained hoods also, or 
else they wore coifs, generally of velvet, bent down over the fore- 
head, and with a veil attached behind. Little could be seen of 
the hair, beyond two rolls, one on either side of the temples. 


Lastly, some ladies, Mary Stuart and her attendants in particular, 
had their hair curled, confined it in a light net, and encircled it 
with a diadem of beads or metal. 

The coiffure " en raquette " consisted of open basket-work plaits. 

Low shoes and slippers were still exclusively worn ; but when 
it was necessary to leave home and brave the mud, or when ladies 
wished to add to their deficient stature, they wore light pattens 
with cork soles over their house shoes. In the latter case, pattens 
occasionally became perfect pedestals, marvellously increasing the 
height of dwarfs, and laying them open to many ill-natured jests. 

" I recollect," says Brantome, " that one day, at court, a very 
fine and beautiful woman was looking at a tapestry whereon Diana 
and her nymphs were very innocently depicted in short garments, 
and displaying their beautiful feet and legs. Beside this lady 
stood one of her companions, who was very short and small, and 
who also was admiring the tapestry. ' Ah, my dear,' said her 
friend, 'if we were aU dressed after that fashion, you would not 
gain by it, for your high pattens would be seen. Be thankful to 
the times and to the long skirts we wear that hide your legs so 
neatly — the which, with their great pattens, are more like clubs 
than legs ; for if any one had no weapon for fighting, he need but 
to cut off your leg, and holding it at the knee, he would find your 
foot and shoe and patten would strike right well.' " 

May we not say the same thing at the present day .-' Now that 
little women wear inordinately high heels to give themselves the 
appearance of middle height, dwarfs are induced to think them- 
selves almost giants. 

But without further digression let us return to the fashions 
of 1559-60, and to the edicts of the period. 

When we speak of past fashions, alas ! we must always mention 
sumptuary laws at the same time ; that is to say, remedial measures 
against the excesses of caprice and luxury. As if wisdom could 
be decreed by law ! 

We know their unsuccessful results. But even at the present 
day, when difference of rank is no longer marked by difference of 
dress, we sometimes meet with persons who arc indignant with a 


working woman if she ventures to wear a silk gown or a velvet 
cape on Sunday. 

" No, I cannot understand the Government not interfering," 
exclaimed a charming " great lady," the other day in my presence. 
" Only a week ago I was almost elbowed in the Champs Elysees 
by a girl with a gown identically like my own ! It is really dis- 
graceful ! " 

In a conciliatory tone I replied, " Probably she had good taste 
like yourself." 

" It is disgusting ! because, after all, the rest of the costume did 
not harmonize with the gown, and the effect was wretched." 
" You must have been glad of that, madame." 
" Glad ? " 

" Yes ; for harmony is everything, or almost everything in dress ; 
and if that voung workwoman could not display an Indian shawl 
like yours, you have nothing to complain of." 

" On the contrary, I do complain. Extravagance and ' equality ' 
in dress are the ruin of scores of working girls. There ought to 
be a law against it." 

" There were laws in former times, madame," I replied ; " but 
they were an absolute failure." 

And then I repeated almost word for word what I have said 
farther back in this book, concerning reforms imposed by law. 
But all my arguments failed to convince my hearer, who was 
blinded by her prejudices. It is certain that sumptuary laws, even 
if they could be revived at the present day, would be as ineffectual 
as in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. Neither fines nor 
even imprisonment would put a stop to coquetry, in whatever 
rank of lile. 

The opinions of my fair friend were probably the opinions of 
ladies in the reign of Henri II., tor in the exordium of an edict 
issued by that king on July 12, 1549, we read that "gentlemen 
and their wives went to excessive expense for their gold and silver 
stuffs, their embroideries, braids, borderings, goldsmiths' work, 
cords, cannetilles, velvets, satins, or silks striped with gold and 
silver." These articles, therefore, were forbidden, except to 


princes and princesses. Those exalted persons, however, set a bad 
example in the matter, that was too often followed. 

The chapter of prohibitions having been thus begun, arbitrary- 
measures became numerous. A maximum was actually fixed for 
marriage portions ! Fathers and mothers, or grandparents giving 
their daughter or granddaughter in marriage, might not endow 
her with more than t 0,000 livres (Tournois) ! Truly a most 
obnoxious regulation ! for was not such a law an interference with 
marriage, and an encroachment on the rights of parents ? 

The wives of plebeians were forbidden to wear coats like ladies, 
and head-dresses of velvet. Dark colours only were permitted 
them, and common materials. 

But of what avail are severe laws, when broken ? The stream 
of fashion was in favour of splendid garments, and of all the aids 
that are given by dress. 

The first hand-knitted silk stockings were worn by King Henri 
II., at the wedding of iVIarguerite of France with Emmanuei- 
Philibert of Savoy, in the month of June, 1559. The common 
people, and even the well-to-do classes, continued for a long time 
to wear stockings made of pieces of stuff sewed together. 

Extravagance and luxury pursued their way, and became more 
versatile and ruinous than ever. Men and women spent their 
money, as well as money that was not their own, on dress. 
Frenchmen and FVenchwomen seemed bent on proving themselves 
absolute arbiters of fashion. 

Now to hold the sceptre of taste and toilet involves obligations 
as onerous as nobility itself, and to excite the admiration and envy 
of coquettes is a costly privilege. 



tii.ii;:n t-i: iiat dns 











1560 TO 1574. 

The wars of religion — The fashions of Italy are brought across the Alps, and are welcomed 
in France — Effects of the expeditions into Italy — Articles from Venice and Genoa are 
very fashionable — A cloud of sugar-plums, and a shower of scents — Effeminate style of 
dress— Charles IX. and his Edicts against extravagant display — Fashion rebels against 
sumptuary laws — Women of high rank, bourgeoises, widows, and spinsters — Wedding 
dresses — Observations of a Venetian amb.assador — " Corps piqu§ " — Drawers — Paint — 
Cosmetics— Breast mirrors, girdle mirrors — Court dresses — " Arcelets." 

Hitherto we have seen only the brilliant side of the Renaissance, 
so to speak, and its multiplicity of arts, fetes, and ceremonials 
conducive to splendour and display. Let us now glance at the 
darker side of the picture, at the shadows cast by the religious wars, 
and let us note the results of more than one disaster. 

The name of Charles IX. immediately recalls to our recollection 
the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and fills us with horror and 
dismay ; that of Henri III. brings before our minds the League, 
with its grotesque and sanguinary incidents, and its fatal termina- 
tion by the dagger of Jacques Clement. At the same time, both 
reigns afford us matter of a highly interesting nature in connexion 
with our subject. In no other way can these reigns be attractive 
to us ; nor will the horrors of those times ever be repeated, but 
the fashions of the sixteenth century have, on the contrary, already 
reappeared in a certain measure, and at different periods. They 
will revive completely, perhaps, at some future day. There is 
nothing more present, sometimes, than the past, especially in matters 
of dress, as every Frenchwoman knows. Why then should not 
our fair contemporaries once more attire themselves in the fashions 
that were so becoming to their predecessors ? 


When foreign fashions were likely to add to their attractions, 
Frenchwomen have never refused to adopt them. They have 
alternately worn pretty articles of dress from Spain, or copied the 
costumes of our fair English neighbours, to which they imparted 
an elegance all their own. They have seldom cared for the severe 
German style, but from Italy they have frequently borrowed some 
of her Southern graces, offspring of that sunny land and deep 
blue sky 1 

Thus, in the sixteenth century, did Italian fashions cross the 
Alps with Catherine de Medicis. Heaven only knows whether 
the fine ladies of the court were most interested in the bloodshed 
of the fatal night of August 24, 1572, or in the quantity of 
Milanese silks imported about the same time. I have not the 
heart to blame them for turning away from such frightful episodes. 

But wherefore this love for the products of Italy, for the per- 
fumed sachets of Venice, for the gold filagree-work of Genoa ? 
Until that period Frenchwomen appear to have been unacquainted 
even with the names of the countries which form the shores of the 
Adriatic, and suddenly they become versed in all the minute 
details of the costumes of those countries ! 

This must not surprise my readers. Only that I fear to be tedious, 
I would remind them that little things may spring from great, as 
well as great things from little, and I would enter upon a lengthy 
historico-philosophic dissertation. 

Let it suffice to state that the filagree-work of Genoa, and the 
perfumed sachets of Venice, found their way into France as a 
consequence of the fatal expeditions of Charles VIII., Louis XII., 
and F"rancis I. into Italy. From Italy also came cambric hand- 
kerchiefs embroidered in tent-stitch with red silk. 

I need not dilate further on this subject, but I will add that we 
may fix the period of which I am speaking as that of an invasion 
of France, by fashions of Italian prodigality, and sudden and 
striking effect. 

Charles IX. was entertained one day at dinner by a gentleman 
from the south. Towards the end of the banquet the ceiling 
suddenly opened, a dense cloud descended, and burst with a noise 



like thunder into a hailstorm of sweetmeats, followed by a gentle 
shower of perfumed water. 

We may judge from this instance how childish were the splendid 
customs of the age, and understand the edicts by which the king 
vainly endeavoured to curb the folly of his courtiers, who vied 
with him in magnificent extravagance, and ruined themselves by 
their efforts to rise to the height of the times, and to shine in galas 
and private entertainments. 

We ntiist begin by stating in a general way that the new 
fashions for women were immensely popular, and influenced those 
for men in the highest degree. 

Gentlemen adopted an effeminate style of dress, which unfor- 
tunately was perpetuated and developed in no small measure by 
their immediate descendants. 

Charles IX., however, openly professed his contempt for extreme 
attention to dress. 

Outside political affairs he cared for nothing but the pleasures 
of the chase, and locksmith's work, in which he greatly delighted. 
He could not endure that men should wear busks to their 
pourpoints, nor dress like Amazons at tournaments; nor would 
he even tolerate the costly fancy of sending to Italy or the East 
for silks, ostrich feathers, perfumes, and cosmetics. 

In the very first year of his reign, on April 22, 1561, he drew 
up an edict at Fontainebleau, from which we extract the following 
passages :■ — 

" We forbid our subjects, whether men, women, or children, 
to use on their clothes, whether silken or not, any bands of em- 
broidery, stitching or pipings of silk, gimp, &c., with which their 
garments, or part thereof, might be covered and embellished, 
excepting only a bordering of velvet or silk of the width of a 
finger, or at the utmost two borderings, chain-stitchings or back- 
stitchings at the edge of their garments. . . . 

" We permit ladies and damsels of birth, who dwell in the 
country and outside our towns, to wear gowns and cottes of silk 
stuff of any colour, according to their estate and rank, provided 
always, they shall be without ornamentation. And as for those 



who belong to the suite of our said sister, or other princesses and 
ladies, they may wear the clothes they now have, in whatever silk 
or manner they may be embellished, . . . and only when they 
are in our suite, and not elsewhere. We allow widows the use of 
all silken stufFs, except serge and silk camlet, tafFety, damask, 
satin, and plain velvet. As to those of birth living in the country 
and outside our towns, without any kind of embellishment, nor 
other bordering than that which is put to fasten the stitches. . . . 
Nor shall women of whatever sort wear gold on their heads, 
unless during the first year of their marriage, &c." 

Such a king as that would, methinks, find much cause for 
prohibitory edicts at the present day ! What a fidgetty kill-joy ! 
What a despiser of fine clothes ! 

Charles IX. issued four edicts on the same subject. On 
January 17 and 18, 1563, he forbade vertugadins of more than a 
yard and a half in width, gold chains, gold work whether with or 
without enamel, plaques, and all other buttons for ornamenting 
head-dresses; and in 1567 he regulated the dress of all classes, 
permitting silks only to princesses and duchesses, prohibiting 
velvet, and allowing bourgeoises to wear pearls and gold in their 
rosaries and bracelets only. The above edicts are to be found in 
great awkward folio volumes, amid dry judicial regulations. They 
form part of a mass of materials for the historian of the maimers 
and customs of France. 

Do my fair readers imagine these sumptuary laws were obeyed ? 
Do they not feel that many women would prefer paying fines to 
the mortification of not dressing according to their inclination ? 
I leave them to decide the question, and I proceed to describe 
feminine attire in the reign of a prince who ventured to say to 
Fashion, " Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." 

What an extraordinary ruler was Charles IX. ! He offered 
battle to Fashion, a more absolute sovereign than himself! — to 
Fashion, whose cause was that of millions of women ! Moreover, 
he infringed his own laws, by giving permission to the ladies of 
Toulouse, in 1565, to wear " vertugales." 

Fashion gained the victory. Gowns with high collars were 



retained, and pleased the Huguenot ladies without being distasteful 
to the Catholics ; while gold and silver were diversified in a 
hundred ways on various dress-stuffs, or brocaded, or mixed with 
lace, or twisted, or placed in bars or stripes on silk or velvet. The 
prohibitions were simply ignored. 

Women of high rank, wore head-tires of black velvet, or "es- 
coffions " — coifs of plaited gold or silk ribbons, often ornamented 
with jewellery. They wore masks, and held them in their hands. 

Bourgeoises, whose means did not allow them to run the risk of 
a fine, contented themselves with cloth hoods, abstained from silk, 
and carried no mask ; but their cottes, cotillons, and gowns might 
be shaped according to their pleasure, and were consequently the 
same in form as the garments of noble ladies. Almost every 
bourgeoise made use of cloth stuffs or camlets, and of black muffs, 
for only ladies of rank might use those of various colours. 

For a certain length of time, widows wore veils out of doors, 
high gowns, a camisole, and a turned down collerette without 
lace. When in mourning for a father, a mother, or a husband, 
long sleeves were worn, bordered with white fur or swans'-down. 
No jewels, of course, nor trimmings of jet or steel. For two 
years the hair was concealed. On becoming widows, even 
queens were bound to remain in seclusion for forty days. The 
historian De Thou accuses Catherine de Medicis of having set 
aside this obligation. 

Unmarried daughters walked behind their mothers in the streets, 
followed by their servants. When journeying into the country, 
they rode on a pillion behind a man-servant. 

The hair of married women was sometimes worn flowing loosely 
on their shoulders, confined on the brow by a pearl coronet. 

The wedding-gown of a girl of the people was generally of 
cloth, with bands of black velvet, and open sleeves, hanging to 
the ground and lined with velvet ; that of young ladies of rank 
depended on the taste of the wearer, whose thousand and one 
caprices were amenable to no law. Nor would those high-born 
brides have wanted for protectors of their own sex, had they 
infringed any of the edicts. 

H 1 


It is to a Venetian ambassador, an observer of French fashions 

towards the time of Charles the Ninth's death, that we are indebted 

for the above interesting details. He adds: "French women 

have inconceivably slender waists; they swell out their gowns 

from the waists downwards by stiffened stuffs and vertugadins, 

the which increases the elegance of their figure. They are very 

fanciful about their shoes, whether low slippers or escarpins. The 

cotillon (underskirt), which in Venice we call carpetta, is always 

very handsome and elegant, whether worn by a bourgeoise or a 

lady. As for the upper dress, provided it is made of serge or 

'escot,' httle attention is paid to it, because the women, when 

they go to church, kneel and even sit on it. Over the chemise 

they wear a buste or bodice, that they call a ' corps pique,' to give 

them support ; it is fastened behind, which is good for the chest. 

The shoulders are covered with the finest tissue or network ; the 

head, neck, and arms are adorned with jewels. The hair is 

arrantred quite differently from the Italian fashion; they use 

circlets of wire and ' tampons,' over which the hair is drawn in 

order to give greater width to the forehead. For the most part 

their hair is black, which contrasts with their pale complexions ; 

for in France, pallor, if not from ill-health, is considered a 


Our Venetian performs his task admirably. There is nothing 
omitted from his description of the French ladies of the time ; he 
is gallant, too, in the highest degree. He moved in the best 
society, among the fine ladies of the town and court. 

The " corps pique " mentioned by him was much like the corset 
or stays of the present day, and tightly compressed the waist of 
women who were determined, at any cost, to be slender ; and all 
the more determined that the men, as we have said before, vied 
with them in slenderness of waist. They compressed their waists in 
an incredible and unbecoming manner, quite unworthy of their sex. 

On the other hand, women took more than ever to wearing the 
masculine "cale9on," a special kind of pourpoint made with 


We have already mentioned masks ; we must now treat of paint, 


which was introduced into France, it is said, by Catherine de 

Many of the court beauties coloured their cheeks in the evening 
with subhmate, rendering it necessary to counteract its corrosive 
eiFects the next morning. They used both pomades and cooHng 
lotions for the face. Perfumers manufactured their cosmetics for 
the toilet, by pulverizing and blending together the claws and 
wings of pigeons, Venetian turpentine, lilies, fresh eggs, honey, 
shells called " porcelaines," ground mother-o'-pearl, and camphor. 
All these ingredients were distilled with a small quantity of musk 
and ambergris. 

What a mixture ! it is like an invention of Mephlstopheles. 
I am not aware whether perfumers of the present day compound 
such prescriptions, but I do know that to my mind ladies have 
resumed the custom of painting the face more than is desirable. 
But to proceed. 

Jean de Caurres, a writer of the sixteenth century, says that the 
ladies of his time, when masked, wore a mirror on the breast, and 
that the fashion was becoming general ; " so that in course of time," 
he adds, " there will be neither bourgeoise nor serving-maid 
without one." 

This curious fashion did not last long ; that of wearing mirrors 
at the girdle, in order that women might see whether their head- 
dress was in order, was of longer duration. The mirrors in 
question were round, with a more or less handsome handle, by 
which they were hung alongside the aumoniere. 

Catherine de Medicis, whose shoulders were remarkable for 
beauty, had her dresses cut as low in the bosom as at the back. 
Her court imitated her, and many ill-made women dared not dress 
otherwise than their sovereign, to whom also is to be attributed 
the spread of the fashion ot whaleboned bodices, so fraught with 
evil to numberless generations ot women. Opposition does not 
exist among good courtiers. 

" Catherine de Medicis," says Brantome, " was the first who 
rode on a side-saddle." 

Court dresses were made with immense trains ; at balls these 


were held up by a metal clasp or ivory button. Notwithstanding 
their weight, lined as they were with ermine or miniver, no lady 
would appear without one, even at the risk of suffocation. 

Let us, however, do justice to the women of the time of Charles 
IX., and while criticizing certain details of their attire, admit that 
it was of enchanting grace, and extremely harmonious in design. 

Can there be any costume in better taste than one in white 
brocade ? What can be more elegant than borderings in coloured 
stones or glass beads } Then there was the fur mantle that a fine 
lady threw over her shoulders, when a cool air made her tremble 
for her delicate health ; and the white kid gloves, so common now, 
so rare at that time, and the lace ruffs ; and those pretty white 
hoods, whence fell a long white veil half concealing the figure, 
and the " arcelets," or wire circlets, by which the hair was raised 
from the temples. And what better finish could there be to a 
costume of a grave style than those deep red linings, that starched 
gorgerette, that simple, yet graceful, black hat ? 



1574 TO 1589. 

Opposition to the laws of King Henri III. on dress — The wife of President N . — How 

both sexes evaded the eihcts -Gowns from Milan — Mixture of masculine and feminine 
fashions — Rage for perfumes — Recognition of rank is demanded — Costumes worn at 
Cognac by Marguerite de Valois in presence of the Polish, ambassadors, and her 
costume at Blois — Brantome's opinion — Pointed bodices, puffed out sleeves, and " bour- 
relets" — Remarks on hair— Ridiculous dress of men— Poucet, the preacher— Satirical 
lines on Joyeuse— Witty remark of Pierre de I'Estoile— Starch used by Henri III.— 

Simplicity seems to have been the motto of Charles IX., as we 
have seen by the sumptuary laws he issued. 

The ideal of his successor Henri III. was, on the contrary, 
splendour of every kind. His courtiers indulged in the wildest 
extravagances, in imitation of their sovereign, whose life was 
passed in continual diversions and magnificent fetes, and who set 
the example of extravagance in dress, and yet constantly issued 
fresh edicts against luxury. 

Henri de Valois cannot be said to have preached by example, 
for his conduct was in flagrant contradiction of his precepts. A 
strong opposition sprang at once into existence when he issued a 
sumptuary law forbidding his great nobles to wear garments of 
gold or silver cloth. 

It is told of the queen, that she was, on one occasion, in a 
linendraper's shop, and seeing a lady dressed with great elegance, 
she asked, " And who are you ? " 

The lady, without looking at the speaker, replied that she 
was the wife of President N . 

" In good truth, Madame la Presidente," observed the queen, 
" you are very smart for a woman of your rank." 


" At any rate, I am not smart at your expense," returned the 
lady ; and then suddenly recognizing the queen, she threw 
herself at her feet. Louise de Lorraine gently remonstrated with 
her upon her extravagance ; she herself having little taste for 
dress or display. 

Those subjects of the king who felt offended by his edicts did 
not think proper to visit the city in garments of serge, like 
Louise de Lorraine ; they had recourse to another expedient, and 
evaded the royal commands by arraying their valets in the splendid 
clothes forbidden to themselves. The lacqueys of the great 
nobles were thus attired in heavily embroidered liveries of silk. 
Every one, on seeing a servant with all the seams of his coat 
embroidered in gold, conceived a high idea of the noble personage 
his master, and ot that master's wealth. Liveries served as an 
advertisement of nobility and a demonstration of pride. 

Women, however, acted on a different plan. Far from dressing 
up their maids in pearls and diamonds, a proceeding by which 
they might have created rivals to their own beauty, they discovered 
another way of evading the law. They had recourse to sub- 

Since brocades were forbidden, they sent to Milan for gowns 
which, without a thread of gold or silver in them, cost, generally 
speaking, 500 crowns each ; and the Italian manufacturers gained 
by all that our own lost. 

Five hundred crowns for the material of a dress ! This was a 
round sum. Five hundred more were spent by French ladies on 
adjuncts and ornaments, on fringes, braidings, twists, and 
" cannetllles ;" and they were delighted with the splendour they 
had attained without the help of either gold or silver. Their love 
for the beautiful was satisfied ; the Milan gowns were quite equal 
to brocade ! 

What right had Henri de Valois, asked the belles of the period, 
what right had he who " starched his wife's collars and curled her 
hair," according to malicious reports, to show such severity 
concerning other women's dress ? 

Did not he himself wear a velvet hat, with a plume and an 


aigrette of diamonds ? Surely this head-dress had not a martial 
air ? Had he not an invincible propensity for effeminacy in 
everything? Had he not deeply studied the contents of the 
queen's wardrobe ? and was he not more learned than all her women 
on every matter of feminine attire ? 

And worse than this ! Immediately on his return from Poland 
he eagerly adopted the fashion of paint and violet powder, that 
women had initiated at the end of the reign of Charles IX. A 
sort of rivalry sprang up under his auspices between the great 
nobles, who made him their model, and the ladies of the court. 
Not satisfied with his plumed cap, identical with the feminine coif 
or " escoffion," he was perfumed with amber from head to foot. 
Never had such a thing been known in France. 

The Italians at the court of Catherine de Medicis had introduced 
a refined taste in perfumes. Nicolas de Montau, in his " Miroir 
des PVangois," reproved ladies for " making use of every perfume — 
cordial, civet, musk, ambergris, and other precious aromatic sub- 
stances — for perfuming their dresses and linen, nay, their whole 
bodies." The fashion spread, even among the bourgeois class. 
Everything was perfumed, garments, hair, gloves, and shoes ; 
cavities were contrived in rings, bracelets, and necklaces to contain 
scent. Fans, which were used by young dandies in rufFs and 
ringlets, as well as by ladies, exhaled an unmistakable odour as 
they were gently fluttered in the breeze. The sexes vied with 
each other in the use of perfumes. Every lady at the court wore 
silk knitted gloves and scented gloves ; and it has been asserted 
that the good Jeanne d'Albret, mother of Henri IV"., was 
poisoned by gloves sent from Italy. 

The dress ot women consisted of a whalebone bodice, very tight 
to the waist, with large leg-of-mutton sleeves. " When the 
princesses or duchesses," says Montaigne, " had not whaleboned 
bodices, they tightened their waists with wooden splints; for, 
above all, it was necessary to astonish the world by a slender waist." 
They usually wore two gowns, one over the other, either of the 
same colour with variegated trimmings, or of different colours. 

Flowered garters were worn. The mask or loup, worn when 


walking, as in tlie reign of Charles IX., was not attached by strings, 
but held by a glass button between the teeth. A round mirror, 
with a handle, hung at the waist, and afforded means of ascertain- 
ing the state of the toilet at any moment. This fashion had existed 
under Charles IX. 

The head-tire most usually worn was a toque with or without an 
aigrette, a " bourrelet," or a small high-crowned hat, of which the 
material was, as it were, crumpled up. 

Many women still wore the old-fashioned hoods; for young 
unmarried ladies they were made of velvet with long falling lappet 
at the back, with a high " touret " and ear-pieces, sometimes orna- 
mented with gold, and called " coquilles " (shells). The hoods 
worn by bourgeoises were made of cloth, and with a square 
" tournette." Difference of rank was still indicated by difference of 
dress, and was destined so to continue for several centuries to come. 

The heart-shaped head-dress of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries again made its appearance, but the heart was now 
constructed of the hair itself, instead of a piece of stuff as formerly. 

Complaints began to be made by great ladies that certain 
bourgeoises were so bold as to wear velvet and gold orna- 
ments. Petitions from the nobles at the Etats de Blois, 1588, 
set forth " that the wives of advocates, procureurs and treasurers, 
bourgeoises, and other ignoble women should not be allowed to 
wear velvet hoods." 

What would be the feelings of women of the present day, if 
any one ventured to forbid them any sort of head-dress ! Can we 
picture to ourselves the wives of lawyers or merchants prevented 
from dressing as they please ! 

The ideal costume of the reign of Henri III. was realized in 
the dress worn by Marguerite de Valois at Cognac, on the occasion 
of her visit to that town at the commencement of her journey 
through France, and before her marriage with the King of Navarre. 
She " put on her handsomest and most superb apparel, that she 
wore at court on occasions of the greatest magnificence." She 
desired to dazzle the inhabitants of Cognac. " Besides," said she, 
" extravagance is with me a family failing." 


Marguerite was continually promoting fetes and tournaments, 
where splendid dress was combined with sparkling wit. 

Let us hear what Pierre de Bourdeilles, Abbot and Lord of 
Brantome, says on the subject : — 

" Marguerite appeared, superbly attired in a gown of cloth of 
silver and colombine colour ' a la Boulonnaise,' with hanging 
sleeves; a magnificent head-dress and a white veil, neither too 
large nor too small. All this was accompanied by so sweet and 
gracious a majesty, that she seemed more like a goddess from 
heaven than a queen of the earth. 

" The queen said to her : — 

" ' My child, you look very well ! ' 

" And she answered : — 

" ' Madame, here I wear out the gowns I brought with me from 
court, because when I return thither, I shall not take them with 
me. I shall take only scissors, and materials, in order to set myself 
up again in whatever may be the reigning fashion.' 

" The queen replied : — 

" ' Why do you talk thus ? since you know that it is yourself 
who invents all the pretty fashions we follow ; and wherever you 
may go, the court will copy you, and not you the court.' " 

Catherine de Mcdicis, who always feared that the sceptre of 
government might be wrested from her, endeavoured by these 
words to make her daughter desirous only of the sceptre of 

And in truth whatever Marguerite de Valois wore became at 
once the rage among her sex. 

The charm of her beauty and her still greater charm of manner 
invested her with supreme rule over all the finery of the great 
court ladies. On one occasion she would appear in a white satin 
gown, adorned with tinsel, with a touch of crimson here and 
there, and a salmon-coloured crape or Roman gauze veil thrown 
carelessly over her head ; on another, her orange and black gown 
and large veil would elicit general admiration ; or she would 
excite the most ecstatic delight by inventing a perfectly original 


On the arrival of the Polish ambassadors who brought the news 
of the election of the Duke d'Alencon (afterwards Henri III.) to 
the throne of Poland, and were delegated by the nation to receive 
the oath of their new king. Marguerite de Valois wore a gown of 
Spanish crimson velvet richly trimmed with gold, and a toque of 
the same material adorned with jewels and bright feathers. Thus 
attired, she looked so divinely beautiful that she had her portrait 
painted in that costume. Marguerite had resolved not to be out- 
done by the Polish envoys, who were attired in the semi-Oriental, 
semi-fantastic style, with great plumes and widespread eagles' 

Her abundant hair required no artificial aid. On Easter Day 
at Blois, at the procession, she wore large pearl stars in her hair, 
and a gown of cloth of gold of Eastern manufacture, which had 
been given by the Grand Turk to the French ambassador, who in 
his turn had presented it to Marguerite. It was so heavily 
weighted with jewels, that only so strong a woman as she was 
could have carried the weight of it. 

But notwithstanding Brantome's approbation. Marguerite de 
Valois is justly accused, by an eminent archaeologist, of having 
degraded rather than improved the fashions of her time. He 
asserts that her taste was not good. 

Marguerite de Valois was certainly mistaken in lengthening the 
waists of dresses to a preposterous degree ; in inventing sleeves 
puffed out at the top and tight at the wrist; and, finally, in 
replacing vertugadins by masses of padding on the hips, which 
made the skirt look like a big drum, and took away all lightness 
and elegance from the figure. 

Marguerite de Valois had magnificent black hair, but, setting 
little value on this gift of nature, she usually covered it with false 
hair of a light shade. She is said to have selected fair-haired 
pages, whose long locks were occasionally shorn for her benefit. 

Much the same custom prevails at the present day, the hair- 
market being supplied by peasant girls. 

According to the Gaignieres collection in the National Library, 
which consists of thousands of drawings and engravings, the ladies 


at the court of Henri III. wore sleeves of enormous size, the 
whole dress, bodice, and skirt being of the same material. 

Servants of the period wore bodices with busks, and carried 
keys in the right hand and a basket over the left arm. The 
costume was grave, and yet not without elegance. 

But however full of absurdities were feminine fashions under 
Henri III., those for men far exceeded them ; their whims and 
eccentricities were unbounded. 

The enormous starched collars that rose from a fine lady's 
shoulders, and made a sort of hollow niche behind her head, could not 
long retain their freshness, however carefully worn, and the padded 
" busts," somewhat like a piece of armour, must have greatly 
impeded all natural movement ; while the goffered rufF, separating 
the head from the shoulders, was far from graceful, notwithstand- 
ing the " bichons," or rolls of hair, on the temples. All these 
constituted an affected and ungraceful costume, and the wearers 
were called " poupins " by the ill-natured wits of the time. 

The courtiers and f;ivourites of Henri III. imitated the 
court ladies, not only by wearing pearl necklaces, earrings, and 
rings of gold, silver, precious stones, enamel, &c., but also wore 
their " bourets " of velvet, and their " bichons " or rolled hair. 
They were " fraises et frises," that is, they wore both ruffs and 
curls. Their pourpoints were open, so as to display the point 
lace, at that time recently imported from Venice. The fans of 
these "curled darlings" were also ornamented with lace; and at 
night they wore masks and gloves saturated with various cosmetics 
and unguents to preserve the whiteness of their skin. 

The dress worn by the Due de Joyeuse, the favourite of Henri 
III., on the occasion of his marriage with the queen's sister, is 
worthy of note. The event made a great sensation in the high 
and perfumed circles of the day. The king gave fetes, which cost 
at least 200,000 crowns, and this at a time when France was im- 
poverished by civil war. 

Maurice Poucet, a famous preacher, protested from the pulpit 
against such profuse expenditure ; and the Due de Joyeuse, 
meeting him on one occasion, exclaimed with indignation, " I have 


often heard of you, and how you make the people laugh by your 
sermons." "It is right that I should make them laugh," the 
preacher coldly replied; "since you make them weep over the 
subsidies and great expenses of your wedding." 

Joyeuse withdrew without daring to strike Poucet, as he had 
intended to do. 

The king and Joyeuse were dressed precisely alike at the 
wedding of the latter. They were covered with embroidery, 
pearls, and precious stones. Like the court ladies, they were 
scented with cordial water, civet, musk, ambergris, and aromatic 
substances ; their ruffs were starched and goffered. They carried 
off the palm from the " poupins." 

Following their example, the dandies of the time not only 
adopted the Italian turn-over collars, but attired themselves in such 
a fashion as to attract the bitterest satire. The following lines 
were aimed at Joyeuse and his imitators : — 

" Ce petit popeliret, 
Frise, fraise, blondelet, 
Dont la reUiisante face 
Fait meme honte il la glace, 
Et la ddicate peau 
All plus beau teint d'un tableau ; 
Ce muguet dont la parole 
Est bleze, mignarde et molle ; 
I,e pied duquel, en marchant, 
N'iroit un oeuf escachant, 
L'autre jour prit fantaisie 
Ue s'epouser il Marie, 
Vetue aussi proprement, 
Peu s'en faut, que son (galant). 
Et, venant devant le temple, 
Le pretre, qui les contemple, 
Demande, facetieux : 
' Quel est I'e'poux de vous deux ? ' " ' 

' That little popinjay, 
Curled, rufi'ed, and milk-skinned, 
Whose shining face 
Puts even his mirror to shame, 
And his delicate skin 
Outdoes the tints of a picture ; 


The starched ruffs, or fluted collars, at first so fashionable at 
the court of Henri III., and then capriciously discarded, made 
their appearance once more, extraordinarily improved, for the 
king's own wear. This was in 1578. The king appeared wearing 
a ruff made of fifteen breadths of cambric, and half a yard in 
depth. " To see his head against that ruff," said Pierre de 
I'Estoile, " put one in the mind of St. John the Baptist's head on 
a charger." 

But the king's triumph was complete ; and his favourites were 
equal to the occasion, and expressed rapturous admiration of his 
good taste. 

Being a true amateur in the matter of fluted collars, he had 
judged that ordinary starch would not suffice to hold up such a 
quantity of material as stiffly as was necessary, and the king of 
France had deigned to invent a sublime mixture ; his august hands 
had obtained a satisfactory result from rice flour, and he had duly 
experimented upon it ! 

From the combination of the masculine and feminine styles, 
dress in general had assumed an ungraceful stiff^ness. The attire 
of Henri III. was considered monstrous by the serious minds of 
the time. D'Aubigne exclaimed : 

" Si, qu'au premier abord, chacun estoit en peine 
S'il voyoit un roi-femme on bien un hoinme-reine." " 

The ladies of the court, fortunately, were not such thorough 

That coxcomb whose mode of speech 

Is mincing, soft, and lisping, 

And whose foot when he walks 

Would not crack an eggshell, 

Took a fancy, the other day. 

To marry Marie. 

She was dressed almost as gaily 

As her gallant. 

And when they came to church, 

The priest, looking at them, 

Asked, jestingly : 

' Which of you two is the husband ?'" 

* " So that at a first glance, each comer was at a loss 

To know whether he beheld a king-woman or a man-queen." 


courtiers as to overpass all the bounds of decorum. They adopted 
the fashion of cushions, which remaining fixed behind, while 
the hoop swayed, gave size and roundness to the hips, but they did 
not imitate the king's gentlemen in wearing the " panse," or 
paunch, an absurd invention, which gave the male wearer a likeness 
to Punch, and was the exact opposite of the "buste ajuste." The 
" buste " flattened the figure, while the " panse," consisting of a 
quantity of cotton wool, formed an enormous Pantagruelian 
stomach, and imparted a truly grotesque appearance to those who 
wore it. This absurd fashion was of short duration ; men found it 
cumbrous, and perhaps became ashamed of the ridicule it excited. 
If my fair readers will look at a painting at the Louvre, by 
Clouet, otherwise Janet, circa 1584, they will feel flattered; for 
they will perceive that the palm of absurdity and singularity 
belonged of right at that time to the sterner sex. 





I5S9 TO 1643. 

Universal mourning on the death of the Guises ; intolerance of showy dress — Vertugadins, 
"espoitrement," "corps espagnole" — Diversity of colours — The pearls, jewels, and 
diamonds belonging to Gabrielle d'Estrees and to the queen — Dress of Marguerite de 
France — Low-cut bodices — Head-dresses of hair — Various styles — Venetian slippers — 
Edicts of Louis XII. — Caricatures : " Pompe funfebre de la Mode " — Words and fashions 
— Ribbons or " galants " — Dress of widows— "Demi-ceint" girdles — Gloves of all sorts — 
Patches — Masks; their use — "Cache-laid" — The F'rondeuses — Mme. de Longueville. 

There is no difficulty in ascertaining the relation between the 
events of a certain period and the fashions of the same date. 

It may be that if the spirit of the age be serious, if the social 
community be exposed to severe trials, if continual misfortunes 
befall the mass of the people, the mode of dress will reflect those 
vicissitudes of the time ; and, generally speaking, such is the case. 
Sometimes, on the contrary, extravagance and luxury seem to be 
flaunted in the very face of the general poverty, and the small 
prosperous minority are so profoundly indifferent to the mis- 
fortunes of the greater part of mankind, that they make not the 
slightest change in their mode of living, but indulge in every whim 
and caprice, and continue to bend the knee before the " fickle 

A remarkable exception to this rule is worthy of note. It 
occurred in Paris in December, 1583, immediately after the murder 
of the Due de Guise at the Etats de Blois. Deep mourning 
prevailed among the " leaguers " of the capital, and numerous 
expiatory or funereal processions took place. No fashionable 
costume was tolerated. " If a demoiselle was seen wearing a ruff 
' a la confusion,' nay, even a single ' rabat ' of extra length, or 



sleeves too open, or any other superfluous adornment, the 
people would attack her, drag off her ruff, and even tear her 

But this, we repeat, was an exception. In the most troubled 
times of our history, fashion and luxury appear to have yielded 
none of their rights. Frenchmen, and still more Frenchwomen, 
feel so imperious a need of pleasure ! Ennui comes to them so 
readily ! The love of admiration, or to speak more accurately, 
the love of elegance and of change is so deeply rooted in the 
national character. If luxury did not exist in France, we should 
be compelled to invent it. When it vanishes, we think that all is 
lost — even our country ! 

It is unnecessary to recall the events of the reign of Henri IV., 
which began in civil war, and ended with his assassination. The 
hero of the day, the conqueror at Ivry, the king who "confounded 
both Mayenne and Iberia," loved fetes as much perhaps as battles, 
for in both he was triumphant over all rivals. 

His court followed his example. Men still wore the curls and 
ringlets of preceding reigns; ladies continued to use masks, so 
conducive to tricks and adventures of all kinds. Nor did they 
give up their perfumes, whether ambergris, musk, or cordial 
water; moreover they astonished the world by the size of their 
" vertugadins." 

The vertugadin consisted of circles of iron, wood, or whalebone, 
" resembling the hoops of casks." These were sewn inside the 
skirts. It dated from the first half of the sixteenth century, but 
attained no extraordinary size under the Valois. Many eccentri- 
cities may be laid to their charge, as we have seen, but on this 
point they were tolerably reasonable. 

From the first appearance of the vertugadin, which has become 
a type in the history of I'ashion, splints of wood were employed 
to compress the waist, and give it slenderness and grace. Busks, 
whalebone bodices, and corsets were used later. The object was 
to render the waist smaller ; hence resulted a whole architectural 
system intended to compass the result at which our own contem- 
poraries sometimes aim by means of the corset. The waist was 


so tightly compressed that Henri Elstienne speaks of " I'espoitrine- 
ment des dames." 

The vertugadin came to us direct from Spain. " In order to 
obtain a real Spanish figure," says Montaigne, " what a gehenna 
of suffering will not women endure, drawn in and compressed by 
great ' coches ' entering the very flesh ; nay, sometimes they even 
die thereof ? " 

During the reign of Henri IV. the gigantic size of the 
vertugadin, in spite of satire and sarcasm, was not lessened by one 
inch. In vain was its absurdity manifest. The ladies nearly all 
looked " like church bells," to make use of a metaphor for which 
other historians are responsible. Their bodices were usually 
buttoned in front, and were cut square at the waist ; but they 
often wore long pointed bodices partially opened in front, and 
disclosing a white chemisette elegantly trimmed with embroidery 
or lace. Lace was lavished on every part of the gown — on the 
wrists, sleeves, and back. 

Frenchwomen wore colours, and great was their number — from 
"rat-colour" to that called "widow's joy," or "envenomed 
monkey," or " chimney-sweep," according to D'Aubigne. 

Gabrielle d'Estrees, who wore her hair frizzed and drawn back 
in the shape of a heart, had a " cotillon " of the colour of " gold- 
dust of Turkey." Her black satin gown, slashed with white, is 
mentioned by some writers. She paid 1900 crowns for the 
embroidered handkerchief she carried at a ballet. Some court 
ladies loaded themselves with such a weight of pearls and jewels 
that they were unable to move. At the baptism of the king's 
children, on September 14, 1606, the queen's gown, covered with 
" thirty-two thousand pearls and three thousand diamonds, was 
beyond rivalry, and priceless." Before that, in 1594, Gabrielle 
d'Estrees " was so loaded with pearls and sparkling gems that she 
outshone the light of the torches." She possessed a " cotte of 
Turkish cloth of gold, with flowers embroidered in carnation, 
white, and green," and a "gown of flowered green velvet, lined 
with cloth of silver, and trimmed with gold and silver braid, and 
pipings of carnation satin." 

I 2 


The display of diamonds was destined to increase as time 
went on. * 

The reign of the vertugadin, which Mme. de Motteville de- 
scribed as " a round and monstrous machine," came to an end in 
1630. But red silk stockings, called " has de fiammette," costing 
more than seventy-five francs a pair, shoes with flaps fastened by a 
love-knot " a la Choisy " in blue or red satin, and crimson velvet, 
pattens with high cork soles, survived the vertugadin, as did 
likewise velvet, miniver, and ermine mufi^s in winter. 

Marguerite de France, the daughter of Henri II. and wife of 
Henri IV., is depicted wearing the following costume : Pearl 
necklace and earrings, open-work fan, kid gloves completely cover- 
ing the hands and wrists, where they were drawn under white 
cuffs, a cap, since known as the Marie Stuart cap, her hair frizzed 
and drawn up symmetrically over the forehead, an under-dress of 
black satin, the upper one trimmed with gimp, an open fluted 
collerette, and an immense ruff reaching to the nape of the neck. 

Marguerite de France, whom courtiers called " the goddess," 
was extraordinarily beautiful, and was graceful, lively, and fasci- 
nating in the highest degree. Her " carrures " (shoulder-breadths) 
and skirts were made by her orders, it is said, much wider than 
was necessary. She was enormously stout, and by way of 
improving her figure applied steel bands to each side ot her 
waist. There were, it seems, not a few doors through which the 
fair princess could not pass. 

Gowns were made not only of satin but of velvet, damask, and 
silk of every colour. There were dresses " a collets debordes,'' or 
with collars falling over the shoulders and upper part of the arm ; 
there were ruffs " a grands godrons," so cut out and open-worked 
that the skin was easily discernible behind them ; there were belts 
of exorbitant price, to which were suspended needle-cases, gold- 
handled scissors, and gold-braided velvet purses. 

By degrees, through the fatal effect of bad example, the passion 
for low-cut bodices assumed a boundless sway. 

Innocent XI., who was at enmity with France, rebuked this 
craze from the chair of St. Peter, and showed no greater favour 


to the weaker sex than to the politicians of France. He issued a 
bull by which he " enjoined on all women, married and single, to 
cover their bosoms, shoulders, and arms down to the wrist, 
with non-transparent materials, on pain of excommunication." 

But the thunderbolts of the Church were hurled in vain, and 
light, transparent, and low-cut gowns enjoyed a long career. The 
Vatican and the French Parliament might speak if they chose, but 
they could not prevail against the customs of the day. 

Dating from the year [ 587, one of the last years of the troubled 
reign of Henri III., women had taken a violent fancy to wearing 
hair only as a head-dress, surmounted by a feather. They wore 
false hair or wigs powdered with violet powder for brunettes, and 
with iris for fair women. A sort of gum or mucilage kept the 
hair in its place ; their heads seemed to be pasted. The women of 
the people made use of the dust of rotten oak, and the peasants 
of flour for the same purpose. 

There were four different styles of head-dresses of the period : — 
First, the " coiffure a boucles frisees," or curled ringlets, the 
style of which is sufficiently indicated by its name; secondly, that 
" a passe fiUons ;" thirdly, that " a oreillettes," a hat with a high 
crown, the material of which being crumpled of itself (naturelle- 
ment chiffonnee) fell into a quantity of little folds; and, fourthly, 
the " coiffure a I'espagnole," or Spanish head-dress. 

The latter deserves some notice on account of its elegance and 
singularity. My readers can imagine the effect of a handsome 
Spanish toque, embroidered or braided in gold, and artistically 
placed at the back of the head, with the hair in curls all round the 
front. In addition, there were several plaits intermingled with 
ribbons and jewels, which fell lightly on the neck and floated in 
the wind. This head-dress met with little or no opposition. 

Transparent dresses " a I'ange," or " a la vierge," skirts of 
yellow satin, like those of Francion's wife, and light head-dresses, 
were worn with very delicate and fanciful shoes. Venetian 
slippers were much prized, also coloured shoes with high heels. 

During the reign of Henri IV., Venetian and Florentine lace 
became so fashionable in France, that, in justice to native manu- 


facturers, their importation was forbidden. But a system of 
fraudulent traffic was set up, and French vanity almost got the 
better of the law. The king chose to banter his minister on the 
extravagance of women, and Sully immediately took, certain steps 
which succeeded in temporarily stopping the excess of expenditure 
on dress. 

Louis XIII., the son of Henri III., endeavoured to walk in the 
path traced out by Sully, and in 1633 and 1634 he issued two 
fresh edicts lecturing Frenchwomen on their caprices. All the 
women instantly cried "Shame!" and numberless caricatures were 
published in defence of their cause. 

One artist depicted a steady tradesman of Flanders, reduced to 
a state of despair, tearing his hair, and wildly cursing things in 
general, while he tramples his embroideries under foot and 
exclaims : — 

" Que fait-on publier ? que venons-nous d'entendre ? 
Mettons bas la boutique, et de nos passements 
Faisons des cordes pour nous pendre ! " ' 

Another print bore the following title : " Pompe funebre de la 
Mode, avec les larmcs de Dcmocrite et les ris d'Heraclite." Four 
women are leading Fashion along, followed by a crowd of work- 
women, barbers, embroiderers, and tailors, who are endeavouring 
to make the best of their evil fortune, and brandishing, after the 
fashion of banners, wands laden with lace and finery. In the back- 
ground is a sarcophagus bearing the following epitaph : — 

" Ci-gist sous ce tableau, pour I'avoir merite. 
La Mode, qui causait tant de folic en France. 
La mort a fait mourir la superfluity, 
Et va faire bientot revivre I'abondance." - 

I i< 

What is it that is published ? what do we hear ? 
Let us shut up shop, and of our goods make rojies 
To hang ourselves withal." 

" Here lies under this jjicture, for having deserved it. 
Fashion, which caused so much madness in France. 
Death has put superfluity to death, 
And will soon revive abundance." 


Here lieth Fashion ! The ladies of the day must have laughed 
heartily in their sleeve at the notion of the death of Fashion ; for 
how should they admit that it deserved to die ? In spite of carica- 
tures it did, in fact, survive, and in face of all the edicts took 
refuge at court, as its privileged sanctuary, and the natural home 
of ermine, gold-laced coats, lace, and jewels. 

Vaugelas, the grammarian, paid tribute to the power of Fashion, 
when he said : " Words are like fashions. The wise, who know 
that they must speak and dress like every one else, do not imme- 
diately adopt the newest inventions of folly, but only those in 
general use, and it is equally unreasonable to endeavour to make 
words or to make fashions, or to refuse to abide by them after 
they have been publicly recognized."' In other words, custom 
overrides everything as regards both language and dress, and no 
one can decree innovations either in speech or in costume, with a 
chance of being obeyed. 

Nor did the Jansenists meet with better success when they 
attempted to deprive a certain lady of Easter Communion because 
she had trimmed her pocket-handkerchief with lace. Was it not 
the fashion .' 

Meanwhile the mere bourgeoises, who dared not openly defy 
the sumptuary laws, wore, in place of the lace forbidden them, 
a quantity of ribbon under the generic name of " galants.'' 

Knots of ribbon appeared on the dresses of all the bourgeoises, 
and even on those of the maid-servants of Moliere's and Corneille's 
time. There were tufts of ribbon on the skirts, bodices, sleeves, 
and hair. Bourgeoises felt the necessity of wearing ribbons at a 
time when cavaliers were profusely adorned with them. The 
whole French people were ribbon mad. 

The " chaperon " or hood was still worn by bourgeoises. This 
was a small coif pointed on the forehead, and with an appendage 
behind that hung over the shoulders. The point was fastened 
down by pins. If we may believe the author of " La Chasse au 
Vieil Grognard," " nobody was so well dressed, so clean, and so 
respectable " as the bourgeoises. " So well mannered, and so 
agreeable in their speech and conversation, that for the most part 


they with their daughters would be taken for noble ladies rather 
than for bourgeoises and shopkeepers." 

Great ladies also condescended to wear hoods, but only in 

According to Menage, Anne of Austria introduced the fashion of 
" garcettes," which took the place of the padded wigs. The hair 
was frequently dressed " en tire-bouchons," or corkscrew-fashion, 
and in loops, with a " culbute " or ribbon-bow fixed in the 

Widows were never seen without a little coif on their heads. 
After two years' deep mourning in " guimpe " and mantle, says a 
modern writer, widows were restricted for the rest of their lives, 
unless they married again, to black and white made in the simplest 
manner. Mme. d'Aiguillon, the niece of Cardinal Richelieu, was 
the first who ventured to wear colours after her husband's death. 
Yet she did not throw aside the hood, which remained in existence 
under different names— sometimes " languette," sometimes " ban- 
deau " — until the close of the seventeenth century. 

According to St. Simon, Mme. de Navailles, who died in 1700, 
was the last widow who wore a " bandeau." 

For undress, great ladies wore small coifs or round caps, fitting 
close to the head. Servants and women of the people added a kind 
of flag, which hung down between the shoulders, and was called 
a "bavolette," and was probably the forerunner of the "bavolet," or 
bonnet-curtain of our own times. Countrywomen wore instead 
of a coif a thick stitched " bcguin," which is still in use in certain 
country places. In Picardy it is called a " cale " or " calipete." 

Women of the people wore no gowns, only two petticoats and 
a bodice ; the latter was sometimes laid aside for a " hongreline," 
or loose bodice with deep basques, and in all cases an apron. 
They almost all possessed gold ornaments. 

The girdle consisted of a " demi-ceint " of silver, and a broad 
band of silk ornamented with chased or enamelled gold-work. 
The " demi-ceint " was sometimes worth forty crowns ; knives 
keys, scissors, &c., were suspended to it by a chain. Taken 
altogether, the dress of a maid-servant was rather complicated. 


Feminine attire altered very little under Louis XIII. We may 
note, however, the muff and the little " muff-dog," seldom 
separated from his mistress. 

Essences were still used, also white lead and vermilion. Every 
article of dress was scented, including shoes, and especially 
gloves. There were gloves " a I'occasion," " a la necessite," " a 
la cadenet," " a la Phyllis," " a la Frangipani " made out of highly 
perfumed skins, and gloves " a la Neroli," so called from a 
princess of that name who had, it seems, invented an exquisite 

In the " Discours de la Mode" (16 15) we read : — 

" Une dame ne peut jamais estre prise'e 
Si sa perruque n'est mignonnement frisde, 
Si elle n'a son chef de poudre parfume 
Et un millier de noeuds, qui ga qui \h. seme, 
Par quatre, cinq ou six rangs, ou bien davantage, 
Comme sa chevelure, a plus ou moins d'etage." ' 

For the benefit of their complexions, women applied lard to 
their faces at night. 

The " precieuses," whom Moliere thought ridiculous, and who 
refined our language until they got out of their depth, used to call 
fans " zephyrs." This is rather an appropriate expression, and at 
any rate it is less affected than the euphemism of " baptized 
mules," by which they designated the porters of their sedan chairs. 

Bright coloured silk stockings were still in fashion, and red 
satin shoes, or little slippers of various hues. 

We must call attention to one novelty, the appearance of 
patches, which are first mentioned in print in 1655, and continued 
to be in fashion until the time of the Regency, when seven 
principal patches were recognized. 

A patch was simply a small bit of black silk sticking-plaister, 

^ " A lady can never be admired 
If her wig be not trimly curled, 
If she wears not perfumed powder in her hair, 
And a multitude of knots, pinned here and there 
By four, five, or six, or many more, 
As in her head-dress pleasantly dispersed." 


placed on the face, which looked all the fairer for the contrast. 
Each lady placed the patch to suit the expression of her coun- 
tenance. In the midst of a promenade or street a great lady 
might be seen suddenly to stop, to open the patch-box she carried 
everywhere with her, to survey herself in the mirror which lined 
its lid, and quickly to replace a patch that had fallen off. The 
fashion of patches was not, as might be imagined, a production of 
the seventeenth century. It was a reminiscence of early Roman 
times, during which even orators wore patches when speaking 
from the Tribune. We may truly say that there is nothing new 
under the sun. 

It is said that certain plaisters ordered as a remedy for head- 
ache had originally suggested these black spots, and what had been 
at first prescribed for health's sake, was retained as an aid and acces- 
sory to the beauty of ladies who wished for artificial attractions. 

After endeavouring to animate and improve the countenance by 
patches, the next step was to conceal those faces to which nature 
had been unkind behind a mask ; or else to envelope beauty in 
mystery, by making its presence doubtful, and exciting the curiosity 
of the incredulous. 

Masks originated in the reign of Henri II. They reappeared 
in tenfold force under Louis XIII. Ladies avoided recognition 
by wearing black velvet masks, lined with white satin, that folded 
in two like a pocket-book. There were no strings with which to 
fix them on, but a slender silver bar ending in a button was 
fastened on the inside, and putting this between her teeth, the 
wearer could hold her mask in its place. Moreover, the tone of 
the voice was so altered by a mask, that many persons, anxious to 
avoid satirical remark, kept on their masks in public promenades, 
at balls, and even in church. 

The poet Scarron describes the prettiest kind of mask in his 
" iDpitre Burlesque " to Mme. de Hautefort : — 

" Parlcrai-je de ccs fantasques 
Qui portent dentelle a leurs masques, 
En chamarrant les trous des yeux, 
Croyant que le masque est au micux? 


Dirai-je qu'en la canicule, 
Qua la cave meme Ton brule, 
Elles portent panne et velours ? 
Mais ce n'est pas a tous les jours ; 
Qu'au lieu de mouches les coquettes 
Couvrent leur museau de paillettes, 
Ont en Louche cannelle et clous, 
Afin d'avoir le flaire doux, 
Ou du fenouil que je ne mente, 
Ou herbe forte comme niente." ' 

Masks called "loups" were supposed to protect the complexion 
from sunburn, but this was a mere pretext ; the real object was to 
conceal the face of the wearer. Some ladies thus concealed their 
plainness, and the loup was also called " cache-laid," or hide-ugly. 

After the death of Louis XIII., when the minority of Louis XIV. 
afForded an excuse for the troubles of the Fronde, when the great 
ladies meddled with politics, directed insurrectionary movements, 
and acquired the name of " belles frondeuses," masks played a 
most important part. 

Conspiracies that had been hatched in boudoirs broke out in 
the streets, and women took up arms and placed themselves at 
the head of seditious parties. Cardinal Mazarin used to say : 
" There are three women in France capable of governing or of 
upsetting three kingdoms : the Duchesse de Longueville, the 
Princesse Palatine, and the Duchesse de Chevreuse." 

These ladies used to go, masked, to the councils of Beaufort or 

" Shall I tell of those fanciful creatures 
Who wear lace on their masks, 
And bedecking the eye-holes 
Think the mask is perfect? 
Shall I say that in the dog-days, 
When one burns even in the cellar, 
They wear geld cloth and velvet ? 
But it is not every day 
That in place of patches our coquettes 
Cover their chins with spangles, 
And chew ginger and cloves, 
That they may smell sweetly. 
Or fennel — I lie not — 
Or a stron<T herb like mint." 


of Conde, so as to escape the observation of the enemies of their 

There are portraits in existence of that arch-Frondeuse the 
Duchesse de Longueville. She is represented with helmet and 
cuirass ; her air and attitude are those of a heroine. Several 
princesses took, her for their model ; and the period is one of note 
as regards fashion, especially for great diversity in dress. 

No commands were laid on great lords and ladies in those times 
of anarchy among the nobles. There was ample liberty, not to 
say licence, in dress. 

" The women," says a contemporary writer, " shone in jewels 
at a ball given by Anne of Austria, and as much as they could in 
beauty also ; and others in embroidery, feathers, ribbons, and good 
looks, each according to her means and the gifts of nature." But 
for them liberty in dress was not destined to be of long duration. 

/WK. LENOX ,v,. 



1643 TO 1705. 

Louis XIV. commands— Court luxury and pleasure; disguises — The Temple jewellery — 
Fashion and etiquette^Successive fashions — Royal edicts — The " Tombeau du sens 
commun" — DressofLa Valli&re — OfMme. de Montespan— Costume of a ladyof rank in 
1668 — The "echelles de Mme. de la Reynie " — "Transparencies" — Manufactures — 
Champagne, the hair-dresser — Female hair-dressers — " Hurluberlus " and Mme. de 
Sevigne — Moustaches for women ; patches — Palatines — Slippers ; high heels — Corsets ; 
fans; sweet lemons^Dog-mufTs— Hair dressed "a la Fontanges" — English style of 
dressing hair — " Esther " — Steinkerks— " Cremonas " — " Amadis " and Jansenist sleeves 
— Hair dressed "a reffrontee " — Dresses of the 0uchesse de Bourgogne — Mignardises. 

A KING who knows how to command now appears upon the 
scene. In his youth Louis XIV. ruled over pleasure, in his old 
age over conscience. 

But whether in youth, middle age, or at the close of life, Louis 
XIV. could not dispense with a numerous company of courtiers of 
both sexes, whom he attracted by means of fetes and fashion, by 
continual amusements, and by pleasures of every kind. 

In 1650, Mme. Belot, the wife of a " Maitre des requetes," 
first wore and set the fashion of the "justau corps," which was like 
the " hongreline " of former years, but shaped in some respects 
like a man's pourpoint. As a riding or hunting costume it was 
also adopted by the bourgeoises. 

Scarfs came again into fashion in 1656. But some disbanded 
soldiers amused themselves by wandering through the streets of 
Paris and snatching those light garments from the shoulders of 
ladies passing by, on the pretext that Louis XIV. had forbidden 
the wearing of them. A few of these scoundrels were hanged, 
without ceremony, by the police. 

During the Carnival of 1659, " the court," says Mdlle. de Mont- 


pensier, " only arrived at the beginning of February. . . . We 
often masqueraded in most delightful fashion. On one occasion, 
Monsieur, Mdlle. de Villeroy, Mdlle. de Gourdon, and I, wore 
cloth of silver with rose-coloured braid, black velvet aprons, and 
stomachers trimmed with gold and silver lace. Our dresses were 
cut like those of the Bresse peasants, with collars and cuffs of 
yellow cloth in the same style, but of somewhat finer quality than 
is used by them, and edged with Venetian lace. We had black 
velvet hats entirely covered with flame-coloured, pink, and white 
feathers. My bodice was laced up with pearls and fastened with 
diamonds, and had diamonds all about it. Monsieur and Mdlle. 
de Villeroy also wore diamonds, and Mdlle. de Gourdon emeralds. 
Our black hair was dressed in the Bresse peasant style, and we 
carried flame-coloured crooks ornamented with silver. For 
shepherds we had the Due de Roquelaure, the Comte de Guiche, 
Pequilain, and the Marquis de Villeroy, &c." 

In 1662, "pleasure and plenty were reigning at court; the 
courtiers lived high and played high. Money was abundant, 
every purse open, and young men got as much cash as they chose 
from the notaries. There was a constant succession of feasts, 
dances, and entertainments." 

In 1664, Louis XIV. distributed presents of dress-stufi^s to all 
his courtiers, who were positively no longer free to dress as they 
liked. After he had built the pavilion at Marly, every court lady 
found a complete costume, and a quantity of the most exquisite 
lace, in her wardrobe. And when by special favour the royal 
princes were allowed to obtain embroidery in blue silk, it was 
ofiicially reckoned among the " benefits " received from the king. 

Materials were magnificent ! Gros de Naples was brocaded with 
gold leaves and red, violet, or gold and silver flowers. 

The " Mercure Galant " of the same year contained the following 
letter on the fashions, addressed to a countess in the country : — 

" As I am aware, madame, that your country neighbours are 
much interested in the new fashions, I paid a visit lately to one of 
those ladies who can only talk of skirts and finery. . . . 

" Dresses painted with figures and flowers are still worn, but 


there is more green in the bouquets of flowers. They are 
beginning to paint the finest linen, and this is quite a novelty, for 
all those we have seen hitherto were only printed. 

" Jet and enamel buttons are mentioned, watered ribbons, 
and square watches with looking-glass at the back ; but this last 
fashion does not meet with approval, as it is thought the corners 
of the watch might be dangerous. 

" Net-work coifs were at first dotted, and afterwards open 
worked ; this last is quite a novelty, as are also the skirts of 
' point d'Angleterre,' printed on linen and mounted on silk with 
raised ornaments ; every woman has bought some." 

Jewellery had a large sale : some in coloured glass, manufactured 
by a clever artisan in the Temple, was called " Temple jewellery." 
Fashion now became a question of etiquette, and Louis XIV. 
was lawgiver. The court obeyed every fancy of the sovereign, 
and the town followed suit, as far as was possible, and more than 
was reasonable. Debts were incurred for dress. A tailor made a 
claim of 300,000 francs on the great Conde ! 

Men and women alike endeavoured to shine in dress. " At 
the royal residences," says Voltaire, " every lady found a complete 
suit of clothes in readiness for her. A princess had but to appear 
in some striking costume, and every lady of rank immediately 
endeavoured to imitate, even to outshine her. The most extrava- 
gant sums were paid for dresses that were continually renewed." 
"Scarcely had one fashion usurped the place of another," says La 
Bruyere, " when it was succeeded by a third, which in its turn 
was replaced by some still newer fashion, not by any means the 
last." Never had the refinements of P'ashion been pushed so far. 
The poverty of a great part of the population in the time of the 
Fronde has been admitted. But Dubosc-Montandre, the author 
of a pamphlet called " Le Tombeau du Sens Commun," is of a 
different opinion, and exclaims in 1650 : " If the people were poor, 
should we see neckerchiefs worth twenty or thirty crowns on the 
wives of cooks? or liveried lacqueys carrying a cushion behind their 
mistress, a mere shopkeeper's wife ? Should we see milliners and 
butchers' daughters wearing dresses worth 300 or 400 francs ? 


or gold trimmings brought down so low as to adorn laundresses 
withal ? And is it not true that clothes ought to be infallible 
tokens by which to distinguish rank and conditions in life, and that 
in the gardens of the Luxembourg or the Tuileries we ought to 
have no difficulty in distinguishing a duchess from a bookseller's 
spouse, a marchioness from a grocer's wife, or a countess from a 
cook ? ' ' 

Our author forgets that extravagance does not always indicate 
general wealth, though it frequently casts suspicion on the moral 
tone of society. 

On the one hand, the king signed edicts against extravagance, 
while on the other he encouraged it by his splendid fetes. The 
bourgeois alone approved of edicts forbidding gold or silver-laced 
liveries, and fixing a limit to the price of the handsomest materials. 
The edict of 1700 was followed by the publication of a print, 
underneath which was the following distich : — 

" A femme ck'solee mari joyeux . . . 
Treve <\ la bourse du mari jusqu'h. nouvelle mode.'" 

A decree of the council, dated August 21,1665, set forth that 
no woman, single or married, should be admitted " marchande 
lingere," unless she professed the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman 

Fifteen years later, a poet wrote the following lines : — • 

" On ne distingue plus nos dames 
D'avecque le conmiun des femmes : 
Dfes qu'une personne d'honncur 
Prend quelque Juppe de couleur, 
Ou dfes qu'elle change de mode, 
Knfm, di;s qu'elle s'accommode 
Dedans un estat eclatant, 
Une bourgeoise en fait autant ; 
EUe s'ornera de panaches, 
Et s'appliquera des moustaches, 
Des postiches, des faux cheveux, 
Des tours, des tresses et des nceuds, 

' " Mourning wife has joyful husband, 
And the purse a truce until a new fashion arrives." 


Des coeffes demi-blanche ou jaune, 

Ou les toiles entrent par aune ; 

De ces beaux taffetas rayez, 

Qui parfois ne sont pas payez, 

Car souvent tant de braverie (coquetterie) 

Cache beaucoup de gueuserie."- 

The above satirical and descriptive tirade niav, perhaps, have 
annoyed the belles of the day, but it did not reform them. 

Law and criticism were alike in vain, and the history of dress, 
both mascuhne and feminine, from the minority of Louis XIV. 
to the year 171 5, presents a variety of phases that reflect the 
successive changes at his court. 

When Marie Therese arrived in Paris in August, 1660, she was 
attired in " a gown enriched with gold, pearls, and precious stones, 
and was adorned with the most splendid of the crown jewels." 

A year afterwards, at a fete at Vaux, Mdlle. de la Valliere wore 
a white gown, " with gold stars and leaves in Persian stitch, and a 
pale blue sash tied in a large knot below the bosom. Li her fair 
waving hair, falling in profusion about her neck and shoulders, 
she wore flowers and pearls mingled together. Two large emeralds 
shone in her ears." Her arms were bare, and encircled above the 
elbow by a gold open-work bracelet set with opals. She wore 
gloves of cream-coloured Brussels lace. 

- " No longer are our ladies to be distinguished 
From the women of the people ; 
Since a person of honour 
Wears a coloured petticoat, 
Or changes the fashion of her clothes, 
In short, since she dresses herself 
In a gaudy manner. 
A bourgeoise does as much as that ; 
She too will put on plumes, 
And stick on moustaches, 
False hair and pads, 
' Tours,' plaits, and knots ; 
White and yellow coifs, 
With ells of lawn in them ; 
And those fine striped silks 
Which are sometimes not paid for ; 
For often such bravery of dress 
Hides much roguery." 


" Langlee, director ol the royal sports," says Mme. de Sevigne, 
" gave to Mme. de Montespaii a gown of gold upon gold, 
embroidered in gold, bordered with gold, above which was a 
band (frise) of gold, worked in gold mixed with a particular 
kind of gold; and forming the most divine material that can 
be conceived. . . ." 

All women, including the queen-mother, had made use of masks 
until the year i66j. 

This fashion passed away as political adventures gradually 
ceased. But in 1695 it still prevailed. "With regard to ladies," 
says the " Traite de la Civilite," published in Paris, " It is well to 
know that in addition to the curtsey, they have other means, such 
as the mask, the coif, and the gown, with which they can express 
respect; for it is reckoned uncivil for a lady to enter the room of 
a person deserving of consideration with dress tucked up, face 
masked, and coif on head, unless the coif be transparent. It is an 
incivility also to keep on her mask in any place where a person of 
eminent rank is present, by whom she might be perceived, except 
when in a coach with such person. It is uncivil lo keep on the 
mask when curtse\ing to any one, unless from afar off; and even 
then it must be removed for a royal personage." 

The above rules show how greatly the mask had been in use. 

In 1668, women of rank always wore an under-skirt of watered 
or glace satin, with an over-skirt trailing behind, and carried over 
the left arm. Sleeves were puffed, and trimmed with lace and 
ribbon, and scarcely covered half the arm. They were not slashed. 
The bodice reaching to the hips, and fitting tightly to the waist, 
ended in a point. The under-skirt had a double border of gold 
and silk embroidery, while the upper one had but a single border, 
like the Greek and Roman tunics. 

Here and there on the bodice were trimmings of gimp and 
ribbon, and a lace collerette covered the shoulders and chest. 

Women generally wore pearl necklaces. Cuffs held an important 
place in a carefully arranged toilet. " I have been told," writes 
Furetiere, " that the wife of President Tambonneau takes a whole 
hour to put on her cuffs." 


Knots ol ribbon were placed everywhere among lace edgings. 
When arranged in tiers each side of the busk in front, they were 
called " echelles," or ladders. 

On one occasion Mme. de la Reynie's " ladders " were being 
spoken of with admiration before Mme. Cornuel, who replied 
somewhat maliciously : " I wonder she does not wear a gibbet as 
well." M. de la Reynie was Chief of the Police. 

Ornaments of ribbon and chenille succeeded to " ladders." 
Buttons were fixed on braid or chenille, and corresponded with 
" freluches " or " fanfreluches," that is, with tufts of silk. 

" Transparents " came into fashion in 1676. "Have you 
heard of ' transparents ' ? " writes Mme. de Sevigne. " They 
are complete dresses of the very finest gold or azure brocade, and 
over them is worn a transparent black gown, or a gown of beautiful 
English lace, or of chenille velvet, like that winter lace that you 
saw. These form a ' transparent,' which is a black dress and a 
gold, silver, or coloured dress, just as one likes, and this is the 

The black lace worn on skirts was called " quilles d'Angleterre." 

Colbert encouraged the manufacture of lace. By an edict of 
August 5, 1665, "a manufactory of French lace" was established 
on a liberal basis at the Hotel de Beaufort, in Paris. The towns 
designated as the cradles of this valuable art were Arras, Quesnoy, 
Sedan, Chateau-Thierry, Loudun, Aurillac, and above all, Alen^on. 
The commoner kinds of lace hitherto manufactured in Paris, 
Lyons, Normandy, and Auvergne, no longer sufficed for the 
popular taste. 

The finer sorts were also made subsequently at Valenciennes, 
Lille, Dieppe, Havre, Honfleur, Pont-l'Eveque, Caen, Gisors, 
Fecamp, Le Puy, and the Bois de Boulogne. 

French lace vied with that of foreign manufacture, including 
Brussels and Mechlin. 

Colbert eagerly secured the services of a lady at Alen^on, named 
Gilbert, who knew the Venetian lace-stitch, and directed her to 
set up a factory at Alen9on. 

Lace called " gueuse " and " neigeuse " was bought by persons 

K 2 


of small means, — other kinds, of marvellous beauty, could only 
be compassed by women of fortune. 

The fine ladies of the seventeenth century, like those of the 
sixteenth, had their gowns made by men, viz. a certain Renaud, 
living opposite the Hotel d'Aligre ; a Sieur Villeneuve, near the 
Place des Victoires ; Lallemand, Rue St. Martin ; Le Brun, Le 
Maire and Bonjuste, all of the Rue de Crenelle; and lastly, 
Chalandat, Rue de I'Arbre-Sec. 

As real pearls were very costly, a Frenchman, named Jacquin, 
invented a substitute for them in the century of which we are 
treating. He had observed that the water in which small fish 
called " ablettes " (whitebait) were washed, contained a quantity of 
bright and silvery particles, and by filling hollow blown glass 
beads with this sediment, he succeeded in producing an admirable 
imitation. But about twenty thousand whitebait were required to 
supply one pound of essence of pearls ! 

Silks of every kind were manufactured at Lyons, and a work- 
man employed there succeeded in producing them with a bright 
lustrous finish ; the process is called " donner eau." 

The silkworm whose silk is a perfect white was now about to 
be introduced into France. 

The first period of feminine dress under Louis XIV. was chiefly 
remarkable for its monumental head-dresses. 

The Sieur Champagne, by reason of his skill, and also of the 
value he contrived to confer on himself, was in great demand by all 
the fine ladies of the time. 

"Their foolish behaviour made him quite insupportable, and 
he made the most impertinent remarks to them ; some ladies he 
would leave with their hair half dressed." Maitre Adam petulantly 
exclaims : — 

" J'enrage quand je vois Champagne 
Porter la main h. vos cheveux."^ 

It was on this account, perhaps, that many of the most refined 

^ " It makes me furious to see Champagne 
Lay his hands upon your hair." 


women of fashion preferred female hair-dressers, some of whom 
were widely celebrated, viz. " Mesdemoiselles Canillat, Place du 
Palais Royal ; D'Angerville, in the same neighbourhood ; De 
Gomberville, Rue des Bons-Enfants ; Le Brun, at the Palais; 
and Poitier, near the Hospice des Quinze-Vingts." They were 
all wives of wig-makers. 

The hair was dressed " a la Ninon," carefully parted in front 
and flowing in loose ringlets, and partly concealed at the back by 
a white gauze veil. 

An " appretador," consisting of a row of diamonds or string of 
pearls, was sometimes mixed with the hair ; or twists of hair of 
various colours, and " postiches " or false hair. 

At the time of the marriage of the Duke of Orleans with the 
Princesse Palatine (1671), the fashionable style of hair was called 
" hurlupee " or " hurluberlu." Mme. de Sevigne thought it 
most extraordinary. " I was greatly amused at the head-dresses," 
she says, "and felt inclined to give a slap to some of them." 
The word " hurluberlu " meant inconsiderate, brusque, thoughtless. 
Certain ladies were blamed for being "hurluberlu."* 

Mme. de Sevigne afterwards changed her mind. 

A female hair-dresser named Martin, who succeeded to the 
favour accorded to Champagne, introduced a fashion that was 
very becoming to some faces. The hair on each side was cut 
in graduated lengths, and hung in thick curls, the longest not 
falling much lower than the ear. Ribbons were fixed into it in 
the usual way, and a large curl drooped on the neck. 

The " hurluberlu " developed into many varieties, among others 
into " paresseuses," the false wigs or long ringlets that fine ladies 
put on in their dressing-rooms on rising. 

When Mme. de Montespan was at the height of favour, " she 
wore point de France, and her hair in numberless curls, one on 
each side of the temples, falhng low on her cheeks. Black ribbons 
in her hair, pearls which had belonged to the Marechale de 
I'Hopital, and buckles and ear-drops of magnificent diamonds. 
Three or four hair-bodkins; no coif. . . ." 

' Hurly-burly. 


On the whole the seventeenth century was prolific in pretty 
head-dresses. When the head was dressed " a la gar^on," a 
parting was made horizontally along the forehead, a few little 
curls waving loose, while all the rest of the hair was drawn up, 
and cut short on the neck. Mme. de Sevigne advised Mme. 
de Grignan to adopt the above style, somewhat modified: "the 
hair knotted low at the back of the head, so as not to conceal 
either its purity of outline or its harmonious proportions ; the 
short undergrowth of hair in light curls on the forehead gives 
piquancy to the physiognomy, while showers of filmy ringlets on 
the temples add softness to the expression." 

For two years " le faire brelander " was in fashion, that is, the 
hair was cut short and curled. On the other hand, Nanteuil, the 
famous engraver, has bequeathed to us portraits of women with 
most luxuriant hair ; long ringlets mixed with pearls rise from the 
crown of the head, and fall down on either side. 

The " capeline " of the seventeenth century was a hat worn by 
ladies when hunting, or at a ball or masquerade. It was generally 
made of straw, with a deep brim lined with silk or satin, and was 
covered with feathers. Sometimes it was merely a velvet cap, 
trimmed with feathers of no great value. 

Long ringlets were called " moustaches." " Women wore 
curled moustaches hanging down over the cheeks, and reaching to 
the bosom. Servants and bourgeoises met with great disfavour 
when they wore moustaches like young ladies." 

From the time of the Fronde, many Frenchwomen had con- 
tinued very partial to patches. A poet, writing under the name 
of "La Bonne Faiseuse," says: — 

" Tel galant qui vous fait la nique, 
S'il n'est pris aujourd'hui, s'y trouve pris demain ; 
Qu'il soil indifferent ou qu'il fasse Ic vain, 
A la fin la moiicJu le pique."* 

" However a gallant may slight you, 
If not to-day, he will be caught to-morrow; 
Whether he be indifferent or conceited, 
In the end the //)• {motuhe) stings him." 


In the "Adresses de Paris" (1691), De Pradel informs us that 
" The best patch-maker lives in the Rue St. Denis, at the sign of 
' La Perle des Mouches.' " 

La Fontaine tells us in verse the use of patches. He puts the 
following lines into the mouth of an ant : — 

" Je rehausse d'un teint la blancheur naturelle, 
Et la dernifere main que met a sa beaute 

Une femme allant en conquete, 
Cast un ajiistement des mouches emprunt^." ^ 

As a little fanciful adjunct, ladies wore " palatines " ot white 
gauze, or of English point or French lace in summer, and miniver 
in winter. They were so called after Charlotte Elizabeth of 
Bavaria, daughter of the Elector Palatine, and second wife of 
Monsieur, who was the first to make use of them, in order, it is 
said, to avoid the immodesty of exposing her shoulders and 

She was called by the courtiers " toute d'une piece," on account 
of her frankness and worth, but the " palatine " was her only 
success at Versailles. 

Until the reign of Louis XIV., leather gloves had been worn by 
men only, and resembled the war-gauntlets of the ancient monarchy; 
but during his reign women displayed the beauty of their hands 
by wearing either kid gloves reaching to the upper arm, or 
long mittens in netted silk ; while charming pink or blue satin 
slippers, with rosettes on the instep, clad their feet. " This 
reminds me,'' says Tallemant, " of some of the queen's ladies, 
who, that they might wear pretty shoes, tightly bound their 
feet with bands of their hair, and fainted from pain in the queen's 

High heels soon made their appearance, and continued increasing 
in height until heels of eight centimetres were considered quite an 
ordinary size. 

'' " I increase the natural whiteness of complexion, 
And the last touch put to her beauty 
By a woman on her way to conquest, 
Is an adjustment borrowed from they//« {jnouchesy 


Fran(;-ois Colletet exclaims in " Les Tracas de Paris:" — 

" Mais considere leur patin 
Qui d'un demi-pied les eleve." ' 

And Regnard : — 

" Lise veut etre grande en de'pit de nature." ' 

While Voltaire adds, more recently : — 

" Vous aurez maussades actrices, 
Moitid femme et moiti(f patin."' 

Among the best shoemakers for ladies were Raveneau, Rue des 
Cordeliers; Vernon, Couteaux, Gaborry, Rue des Fosses-St.- 
Germain; Bisbot, Rue Dauphine; Sulphour, Rue St. Severln. 
The shoemaker Des Noyers, Rue St. Anne, only made " very neat 
shoes," and charged a gold louis for them, from which we may 
conclude that those of a more elegant sort were excessively dear. 

The tight stays, so injurious to health, were adopted by the 
ladies of the seventeenth century, and to conceal the discomfort 
occasioned by them, fans were in constant use ; these were beauti- 
fully painted and mounted in wood^ mother-of-pearl. Ivory, steel, 
or gold. 

In 16.56^ Christina of Sweden, while journeying through 
France, astonished everybody by her eccentricities and the strange- 
ness of her dress. Some French ladies asked her opinion as to 
whether they should use fans in summer as well as in winter. 

The Queen of Sweden replied, somewhat coarsely, — 

"I think not; you are windy enough as you are." 

But they used their fans in summer, Christina's advice 

They also carried a sweet lemon in the left hand, and occa- 
sionally set their teeth in It, so as to redden their lips. 

" " But just think of their pattens 
Which raise them half a foot." 

' "Tall Lise ivill be, despite of nature." 

' " You will have clumsy actresses, 
Half woman and half patten." 


From 1660 to 1680 there was little material alteration in femi- 
nine attire. There were, however, a few changes in minor details. 
The long pointed bodices, the short sleeves, and the full skirts 
tucked up over narrower petticoats, remained in fashion. Scarfs 
reappeared frequently. Masks had not been given up; and muffs, 
that were very generally worn, often served to carry about little 
dogs. " Dog-muffs " were sold in the shops. 

An unexpected variation took place in head-dresses. The 
Duchesse de Fontanges was present at one of the royal hunting 
parties, when a gust of wind blew her head-dress aside ; she tied 
it in its place with her ribbon-garters, the ends falling over her 
forehead. Louis XIV. was delighted with this curious, improvised, 
and, so to speak, historical invention, which was due to a mere 
chance. It was consequently adopted by the ladies of the court, 
in the first instance, and afterwards by the Parisian bourgeoises, 
under the name of "coiffure a la Fontanges." 

Imagine a framework of cap-wire, at least half a yard in height, 
divided into several tiers, and covered with bands of muslin, 
ribbons, chenille, pearls, flowers, aigrettes, &c. 

Each separate part of the wondrous structure had its own 
appellation, viz. the solitary one, the duke, the duchess, the 
Capuchin, the cabbage, the asparagus, the cat, the organ-pipe, the 
first or second sky, and the mouse. The last named was a little 
bow of nonpareil, fixed in the mass of frizzed hair that was 
arranged below the curled " fontange." 

" Une palissade de fer 
Soutient la superbe structure 
Des hauls rayons d'une coiffure ; 
Tel, au temps de calme sur mer, 
Un vaisseau porte sa mature." ' 

" If a woman only moves, the edifice trembles and seems about 
to fall." But neither the difficulty of their construction, nor the 

' " A stockade of wire 

Supports the supurb structure 

Of the lofty head-dress ; 

Even as in time of calm upon the sea, 

A vessel bears its masts." 


care required for their preservation, prevented women from 
wearing these things. 

Yet the king disapproved, and for a few months after the death 
of Mme. de Fontanges the ladies of the court submitted to his 
taste, after that interval they followed their own. 

For thirty years those gigantic " heads " held their place at 
Versailles, under the eyes of the old monarch who " protested in 
vain against towering head-dresses." 

There were " tignons," or " torsades," in many plaits, to annoy 
his majesty ; there was the " passagere," a bunch of curls on the 
temples ; the " favorite," a cluster falling on the cheek ; " cruches," 
little curls on the fore part of the head ; " confidants," still smaller 
ones near the ears ; and " creve-cceurs," two curls on the nape of 
the neck. 

Each day brought forth some new complication. When was a 
limit to be reached ? 

Two English ladies, with their hair worn low, having been 
presented at the Versailles court in 17 14, Louis XIV. said to the 
wives of his courtiers,— 

" If Frenchwomen were reasonable beings, they would at once 
give up their ridiculous head-dresses, and wear their hair in the 
English fashion." 

Notwithstanding their spirit of insurbordination, how could the 
court ladies bear to be called " ridiculous," especially by their king ? 

They went from one extreme to the other; and the desire to 
imitate the English ladies induced them to do that which the 
king's authority had failed to obtain from them. They very 
soon made their appearance in the king's " circle " with their hair 
dressed low. The poet Chaulieu mentions the fict : — 

" Paris cede h la mode et change ses parures ; 
Ce peuple imitatcur et singe de la cour 

A commence depuis un jour 
D'huniilier enfin I'orgueil de ses coiffures." ' 

' Paris yields to fashion, and changes its adornments ; 
This people, given to imitation, and copyist of the court, 
Has begun a day since 
To pull down the pride of its head-dresses." 


Besides the stars of Versailles, Mdlle. de la Valliere, Mme. 
de Fontatiges, and Mme. de Maintenon, there shone also, and 
not always with the approbation of the sovereign, the stars of 
the Paris stage. The influence of actresses was increasing. " All 
the mantles now made for women," says " Le Mercure Galant " 
in 1673, "are no longer plaited, but quite plain, so that the 
figure is better shown off. They are called mantles " a la Sylvie," 
although invented by Mdlle. de Moliere, but they are named after 
a book called 'La Sylvie de Moliere.' Those, however, who 
have read the book, know well enough that it was not his story." 
Mdlle. de Moliere composed most splendid costumes for herself. 

After the representation of Esther in 1689, the fashions suddenly 
changed. The Ninon and Montespan styles had lasted until the 
year of the famous jubilee of 1676. "In the early and doubtful 
dawn of Mme. de Maintenon's career," says J. Michelet, "and 
especially in those equivocal years preceding her marriage, she 
had adopted a head-dress which was at once coquettish and devout, 
which in part concealed, and in part displayed, the scarf she had 
bestowed on the ladies of St. Cyr, and which had been imitated by 
all. After Esther, the scarf was put aside, and the face boldly 
exposed. The head-dress was raised higher and higher in various 
ways, and resembled a mitre or a Persian tiara. Gigantic combs 
were worn, or towers or spires of lace, and, later, a scaffolding of 
hair ; or the diadem-cap adopted by Mme. de Maintenon, the 
helmet cap, or dragoon's crest, with which the more audacious 
beauties (like Mme. la Duchesse) adorned their bolder charms. 
Her portraits, and those of De Caylus, are the prettiest of the 
time, and seem to be the types of Fashion." 

The battle of Steinkirk, in which the Prince of Orange was 
defeated, was commemorated in women's dress. They wore 
"Steinkirk" ties, or kerchiefs, twisted round the throat with 
studied and graceful negligence. This was in honour of the 
French officers, who, taken by surprise, had only time to throw 
their cravats about their necks, rush out on the English, and defeat 
them. Mdlle. Marthe le Rochois, a singer of the day, 'had set 
the fashion by loosely tying on a cravat over her stage dress in the 


opera of Thetis et Pel'ee. This was a delicate compliment, and it 
was appreciated and copied. 

All novelties in jewellery were " a la Steinkirk." The fashion 
of the cravats did not last long, but was revived later in the shape 
of " fichus," or three-cornered silk neckerchiefs, trimmed with 
lace, gold fringe, or gold and silver thread. 

Another fashion was derived from war. " Cremonas," or light 
trimmings either puffed or plaited, and sewn to both edges of a 
ribbon, made their appearance in 1702. They were intended to 
commemorate Prince Eugene's entry into Cremona, where the 
Marechal de Villeroi was made prisoner. 

In 1684, women still wore under-skirts trimmed with " falbalas " 
or bands of plaitings, or puffs either placed high up or low down 
on the skirt — and upper gowns with long trains, like those of 
1668 ; but the bodice of the same colour as the train, was made 
with a small basque cut away in front. It was half open, and 
disclosed a braided stomacher, above which was a chemisette of 
fine muslin or lace, or a " follette," a very light kind of fichu. 

Sleeves were no longer puffed, but were worn close fitting, with 
a lace frill. 

Rosettes in satin ribbon were out of fashion. " Amadis" sleeves 
were seen for the first time in the stage dresses of Amadis des 
Gaules, an opera, of which the music was by Lulli, and the words 
were by Quinault. They had been designed by the Chevalier 
Bernin for Mdlle. le Rochois, in order to conceal the ugliness of 
her arms. 

Half dress, or " neglige," consisted of a black gown, black 
adjuncts, and a white apron. Widows dressed in white. 

Another kind of sleeve, covering the arm, was called the 
" [ansenist," in allusion to the severe morals of the Port Royalists, 
who were always warring against insufficient or light clothing. 

The hair was dressed in artistically arranged curls, beneath ^ 
coif of moderate height, not unlike a hollow toque, generally 
speaking goffered, and made either of starched muslin or 
magnificent lace. 

There were many sorts of caps, with hanging lappets, or 


one lappet or "jardiniere." Wasps or butterflies made of brilliants, 
says Boursault, — - 

" Paraissaient voltiger dans les cheveux des dames." ^ 

There was also a fashionable head-dress, placed at the back of 
the head, and showing the ear; this was called the " effrontee," 
or " barefaced." 

The costume was completed by a necklace, the inevitable fan, 
and the high-heeled shoes that are characteristic of a whole epoch 
in dress. 

On the occasion of the betrothal of the daughter of Monsieur 
with the Due de Lorraine, the Duchesse de Bourgogne wore on 
the first day a gown of silver tissue, with gold flowers, touched 
with a little flame-colour and green, and in her hair the finest 
of the crown diamonds. The next day her gown was of grey 
damask, with silver flowers, and she wore diamonds and emeralds. 
Mademoiselle wore a coat of gros de Tours richly embroidered in 
gold ; her skirt, of silver tissue, was embroidered in gold touched 
with flame-colour. She wore a splendid set of diamonds, and 
a mantle of gold point d'Espagne, six yards and a half long, 
and her train was carried by the Grand Duchess. Another time 
her coat and skirt were both of cloth of silver, all laced with 
silver. Her jewels were diamonds and rubies. 

"Towards 1700," says Michelet, "the women of the time no 
longer show the classic features of a Ninon, or a Montespan, nor 
the rich development that they so freely displayed. But the 
devil was no loser. If backs and shoulders are concealed from 
our gaze, the small portion that we are permitted to admire, and 
that is, as it were, offered to our inspection, is but the more 
attractive. There is a sort of audacity about the uncovered brow, 
the hair drawn back so as to show its every root, the high comb, 
or diadem-cap, that seems little in harmony with the soft and 
childish features of the day. This childishness, so devoid of 
innocence, combined with the masculine Steinkirk, gives them the 
appearance of pets of the seraglio, or of impudent pages who have 
stolen women's garments." 

^ " Seemed to flutter in the ladies' hair." 


For a long time the artist Mignard enjoyed the pleasant 
monopoly of painting portraits of the court ladies, and these 
Madonnas of his were so completely the rage, that the Versailles 
ladies wished to be distinguished by their " mignarde " faces ; 
they endeavoured to obtain " mignardise " of expression, they 
smiled "mignardement," and put on little "mignard" affecta- 
tions. The word became part of our language, and was used 
with great frequency in the complimentary talk addressed to 

Mignard was succeeded by a painter called Largilliere ; and 
" mignardise" began to give way to a colder and simpler style, 
though still somewhat tinged with affectation. Mme. de Main- 
tenon on one occasion wore a gown of dead-leaf damask, quite 
plain, a head-dress " en battant roeil," and a cross composed 
of four diamonds on her neck — a cross a la Maintenon. The 
quasi-queen having thus set the fashion of veils and grim coifs, all 
her faithful followers looked like heaps of black and sombre 



1705 TO 1715. 

Painted faces — Reply of a Turkish ambassador— Ineffectual criticism — Mme. Turcaret's 
" pretintailles" — Mme. Bonnet's law-suit — Brocaded materials — "Andriennes" — 
" Criardes " — Return of " hoops '' and paniers — A sailor's leap— Actresses' paniers, 
and the Greek head-dress— Mme. de Letorieres— D'Hele arrives frozen at the Cafe 
Procope — Waterproofs— Finishing touches — Fans and fan-makers in the seventeenth 
century — What Mme. dc Stael-Holstein thought of fans — Transition. 

"The women of this district (Versailles)," writes La Bruyere, 
" hasten the decline of their beauty by the use of artifices which 
they imagine will increase their charms; they paint their lips, 
cheeks, eyebrows, and shoulders, and liberally display them as 
well as their bosom, arms, and ears. ... If by the fault ot nature 
women became such as they make themselves by art, that is to 
say, if their complexion suddenly lost all its freshness, and looked 
as fiery and leaden as they make it by the use of rouge and paint, 
they would be inconsolable." And he adds : " If their wish is to 
be pleasing to men, if it is for the men's sake that they lay on their 
white and red paint, I have inquired into the matter, and I can 
tell them that in the opinion of men, or at least of the great 
majority, the use of white paint and rouge makes them hideous 
and disgusting ; and that rouge, by itself, both ages and disguises 

'I'his reminds us of the reply of a Turkish ambassador who, on 
being questioned as to the beauty of Frenchwomen, said, " I am 
no judge of painting." 

La Bruyere criticized sharply ; while Fenelon, with characteristic 
gentleness, pointed out that the elegant simplicity of the antique 
races was far more favourable to beauty than the fashions of the 


day, which were tending more and more to affectation and over- 

While moralists were thus testifying against their interpretation 
of the art of pleasing, women continued perseveringly to " im- 
prove upon Nature," and load themselves with pretentious finery. 
They sneered, like the men, at the Abbe de Vassetz's " Traite 
contre le Luxe des Coiffures," and at the satirical prints on 
extravagant dress. 

Exaggeration robbed the tight-fitting bodices of all grace ; and 
•' pretintailles," enormous cut-out patterns laid on to skirts of a 
different colour, made the dress unbearably heavy. There was an 
extraordinary variety of nomenclature in the fashions of the reign 
of Louis XIV. The author oi Attendez-moi sous I'Onne, a come- 
dietta in one act, performed in May 1694, puts the following 
remark into the mouth of one of his characters, Agatha, a 
farmer's daughter : — 

" How clever the Paris ladies must be to invent such pretty 
names ! " 

To which Pasquin, the valet, replies, — 

"Malapeste! Their imagination is lively enough! Every 
fashion they invent is to conceal some defect. Falbala high up 
for those who have no hips ; lower down for those who have too 
much. Long necks and flat chests brought in the Steinkirk ; and 
so it is with everything." 

The critics were in the right, but let us admit that women were 
not in the wrong. 

On what grounds did the former attempt to limit feminine 
caprice ? Criticism is easy ; the art of pleasing is much more 

Large cut-out patterns laid on a dress were called " pertintailles " 
or " pretintailles." Lesage mentions them as a new thing in 
Turcaret : — 

" I am always eager after new fashions," says Mme. Turcaret. 
" I have them all sent to me (in the country) immediately after 
they come out, and I flatter myself that 1 was the first to wear 
pretintailles in the town of Valognes," 


Now we must remember that the comedy of " Turcaret " was 
first performed in February, 1709. 

Faibalas and pretintailles were much alike. The falbala itself 
was known in ancient times, but the name was invented by 
M. de Langlee. 

A caricature was published on the Poule d'Inde en Falbala. 
Beneath the engraving were the following lines : — 

" Femme, en«pretintaille et fontange, 

Croit etre belle comme un ange ; 
Mais ce vain falbala, par son ample contour, 

La rend grosse comme une tour, 
Et tout cet attirail si fort I'enfle et la guinde, 

Qu'elle ressemble un poulet d'Inde." ' 

Our ancestors used to hum a song on the pretintaille to the 
tune of " La Cheminee du haut en bas : " — 

" Lorsqu'une chose est nouvelle, 
C'est assez pour estre belle ; 
Des autres on fait peu de cas, 

La, la, la, 
La pretintaille en falbala! 

" II n'importe qui I'invente, 
Quoyqu'eir soit extravagante, 
De bon gout lui cedera, 

La, la, la. 
La pretintaille en falbala ! 

" Mais on la voit disparaitre 
Au moment qu'on la voit naitre, 
Car tout change et changera. 

La, la, la, 
La pretintaille en falbala !" ' 

' " A woman in ' pretintaille ' and ' fontange ' 
Thinks herself as beautiful as an angel ; 
But this vain falbala, by its vast size, 
Makes her as big as a tower ; 
And all this set-out inflates and stuffs her up. 
Until she resembles a fat turkey." 

"When a thing is new, 
That suffices to make it handsome, 
And little is thought about other things, 
La, la, la, &c. 


The " pretintaille " continued to encroach. 
A " devanteau," or apron, was sometimes " pretintaille " to 
such an extent, that the biggest piece was no larger than the 
palm of the hand. Falbalas were " pretintailles," for instance, by 
putting on first a red, then a green, then a yellow one, and 
then alternating the above colours. Flounces were "pretintailles" 
in four or five colours : first, a green one, then yellow, red, blue, 
and white successively. 

When the fashion of "pretintailles" first came in, Mme. 
Bonnet's dressmaker brought an action against her for the sum 
of 800 livres, the cost of making a " pretintaille " skirt, and 
gained her cause. Mme. Bonnet was condemned in costs. The 
bargain had been made at one denier for every yard of sewing. 

After the rage for " pretintailles " had passed away, materials 
with large brocaded patterns in gold or colours came into fashion, 
and gowns resembled window-curtains. Knots of ribbon were 
fixed on the tucked-up skirts ; but these again were succeeded by 
" andriennes," or long, loose, open dresses, like those worn by the 
actress Marie Carton Dancourt in Terence's " Andrienne." 

For a long time past women who wished to show off a slender 
waist had been wearing " criardes," or dress-improvers of stiffened 
linen. In 171 1 the vertugadins came again into fashion under the 
name of " hoops " and " paniers." 

Certain authors contend that hoops first made their appearance 
in Germany, whence they found their way to England, and then 
returned to the Continent by way of France. Paniers were but 
revived vertugadins, of exaggerated size. 

The noise made by the stiffened linen, when pressed against 
ever so lightly, obtained for them the expressive name of 

" No matter who invents it, 
So that it is extravagant, 
Good taste yields to it, 
La, la, la, &c. 

" But it disappears 
Almost as soon as it appears, 
For all changes and will change, 
La, la, la, &<j. 


"criardes." " Paniers " were so called because they resembled 
cages, or poultry-baskets. Their framework was open, and the 
hoops of straw, cord, cane, or whalebone were fastened together 
by tapes. 

Small women, with these paniers on them, were as broad as 
they were long, and looked at a distance like moving balls. At 
the concert in the grand reception-room, Mdlle. du Maine, who 
was wearing enormous paniers, placed herself too near the queen, 
and incommoded her so much that her majesty could not bear 
it in silence. In order to prevent the recurrence of such incon- 
venience, it was ordered that thenceforth the princesses should not 
draw their seats so near the queen, nor on the same line with her 

Coopers and basket-makers undertook the manufacture of dress- 
improvers. In vain were these articles railed against ; they pre- 
vailed over satire of every kind. Paniers were the ruin of homes, 
the dread of husbands, and the misery of passers-by. 

Paniers for morning wear were called "considerations." 

If we may believe M. Emile de la Bedolliere, a writer on 
fashions in France, one Panier, a " maitre des requetes," was 
drowned on the passage from Martinique to Havre. His name 
became a catch-word ; and ladies amused themselves by asking 
each other as they displayed their dress, — 

" How do you like my ' maitre des requetes ' ? " 

The jest produced laughter, but the wit is open to criticism. 

Paniers, however, remained in fashion, and even increased in 
size. In vain did men protest against them. There is a story 
told of a sailor, who, meeting two ladies in the city of Paris whose 
paniers took up the whole width of the street, found it was 
impossible to get past them. Pride forbade him to turn back, 
and in a moment he had taken a flying leap over paniers and 
ladies, to the admiration and applause of the spectators of both 

An actress, who was making her first appearance in the character 
of a princess betrothed to a king of Sparta, appeared on the stage 
in a panier five yards and a half in circumference, under a skirt 

L 1 


of silver gauze. This was trimmed with puffs of gold gauze and 
pink crape, edged with blue jet, and with bouquets of roses 
scattered here and there. The under-skirt was of pink silk. 
Trailing garlands of roses were fastened on by sashes of fringed- 
out cloth of silver. The train dragged six yards on the floor. 
Handsome silver embroidery, mingled with white roses, bordered 
the gown ; the sleeves vs^ere half-long, draped like the skirt, and 
caught up with diamond buttons, over pink silk like that of the 
slip. Her bracelets were of rubies and diamonds, and above 
the panier was a belt of "strass," or imitation diamonds and 

Her hair was dressed in what the celebrated hair-dresser Herain 
was pleased to call the Greek st)'le. A quantity of hair, frizzed 
into the shape of a pyramid upside down, was framed in roses, 
gems, and silver gauze. A regal crown surmounted the whole, 
and a long veil hung down to the edge of the gown. The veil was 
"a vapeur d'argent," that is, of very light gauze covered with gold 
spangles; on the left side was an enormous cluster of pink and 
white feathers, topped by a gigantic heron. 

This extraordinary attire was completed by gloves from 
Martials ; white silk stockings with pink and silver clocks, and 
shoes to match, with heels at least three inches in height. 

Louis XIV. presented Mdlle. de Brie and Mme. de Moliere 
with the mantles worn by them in the comedy of the " Sicilien." 
This was an additional reason for actresses to be included among 
the queens of fashion. Did they not receive presents from 
the king? 

It is hard to believe, but members of the sterner sex 
also yielded to the fascination of hoops. They, too, had their 
paniers, consisting of whalebones fitted into the wide basques of 
their coats. 

M. de Letorieres had " a straw-coloured watered silk coat, 
faced with a dark green material shot with gold ; a green and 
gold shoulder knot (aiguillette), and a set of large and small 
crystal opal buttons set in brilliants, as also was the handle of his 
sword; his hair was arranged in two waving locks powdered 


with tan-coloured powder, and fell lightly and gracefully on his 

In those days, Fashion ruled very despotically, and took no heed 
of the severity of the winter. 

One very cold day, D'Hele made his appearance at the Cafe 
Procope dressed in nankeen. 

"How do you manage to dress like that?" exclaimed his 

" How do I manage ? Why, don't you see gentlemen, I 
freeze I " 

Whether for paying visits, or for walks, camlet rain-cloaks or 
waterproofs were worn in wet weather, and in cold weather 
" balandrans " were worn, that is, cloaks with armholes. 

In the seventeenth century, precious stones took the principal 
place as ornaments ; and gold, however beautifully chased in 
garlands, flowers, or designs of all sorts, was only used to set and 
show them off. The provost of trade at Lyons issued an edict 
forbidding the goldsmiths to sell stuffs woven with silver at more 
than seventy francs a yard. 

But we know the uselessness of sumptuary laws. Numerous 
and costly articles for the toilet, real specimens of industrial art, 
were produced in accordance with the prevailing fashions. There 
is a tobacco-grater in the Louvre collection which evidently 
belonged to some lady or gentleman of the time of Louis XIV. 
It is rather well carved in ivory. 

Large fans with handles were in fashion towards the year 1700. 
It was considered a mark of high breeding for men to chastise 
their wives and daughters with them. This was putting tans to 
a singular use, which probably did not last long. 

The trade in fans increased to such an extent in France, and 
particularly in Paris, that the workers formed themselves into a 
guild, like the guilds of other trades. They petitioned for statutes 
and privileges, which were willingly granted to them by Louis 
XIV. In the eighteenth century there were more than five 
hundred manufactories of fans in Paris. 

From this we may judge how widespread was their use. 


" Let us picture to ourselves," wrote Mme. de Stael to a friend, 
at a later period, "let us picture to ourselves a most charming 
woman, splendidly dressed, graceful and gracious in the highest 
degree : yet if with all those advantages she manages her fan in 
a ' bourgeoise ' way, she may at any moment become a laughing- 
stock. There are so many ways of playing with that precious 
appendage, that by a mere movement of the fan one can tell 
a princess from a countess, a marchioness from a plebeian. And 
then it imparts such gracefulness to those who know how to 
manage it ! Twirling, closing, spreading, rising or falling, accord- 
ing to circumstance ! " 

Mme. de Stael carefully abstains from describing fans as adopted 
for the " chastisement of wives and daughters." A monstrous 
innovation, probably, in her opinion. 

There is a scarcely perceptible transition between the reign of 
Louis XIV. and that of Louis XV. 

Mme. de Maintenon's influence, which had caused a momentary 
eclipse in the brilliant costumes of Versailles, soon passed away, 
and the passion for the most eccentric novelties became stronger 
than ever, at court, in the palaces of princes, and in the salons of 
the bourgeoisie. 



I715 TO 1774. 

The Regency — War is declared against paniers — The Oratorian Duguet — Opinion of the 
"Journal de Verdun" — Various publications against paniers — Lines by Voltaire — 
Whale-fishery company — Paragraph from the "Journal de Barbier" — Mmes. Jaucourt, 
De Seine, DeUsle, Clairon. and Hus — Lines in praise of corsets — New bodices— Coloured 
prints are forbidden — "Perses" or "Persiennes" — Bagnolette- Adjuncts of dress: 
necklaces, ridicules, and poupottes — Contents of a patch-box — A sermon by Massillon — 
Les mouches de Massillon, or Massillon's patches — Filles de Mode, Fashion-girls— Some 
passing fashions — Powder remains in fashion — " Monte-au-ciel " — Simply made gowns 
— The first cachemire. 

It is impossible to draw any line with regard to fashion between 
the Regency of the Duke of Orleans and the reign of Louis XV. 
Both the regent and the king appear to have acted on the same 
motto: "All for pleasure." Both yielded the empire of fashion 
into the hands of women, without attempting to exercise the 
almost absolute sway of Louis XIV. over dress, even when not of 
an official character, and women ruled with a high hand, and for 
no small space of time. The poet Dcstouches puts the following 
lines into the mouth of one of the characters in " L'Homme 
Singulier : " — 

" Je fais mon plus grand soin du soin de me parer, 
Rien ne me flatte plus qu'une mode nouvelle." ' 

Both sexes proved him to have been in the right, by indulging 
all their personal fancies and predilections. 

During the Regency of the Duke of Orleans, dress was essentially 
Hght in material ; gowns were made with basque bodies, pagoda 
sleeves, and trimmed with knots of ribbon, or " chicorees," or even 

' " My chiefest concern is the care of my attire ; 
Nothing pleases me more than a new fashion." 


with artificial flowers. The hair is dressed either " a la culbute" 
or " a la doguine." 

Enormous paniers were worn in the reign of Louis XV. ; they 
came into fashion in 171 8, and were very cleverly constructed. 
Few ladies were found to object to them, although in walking 
they occupied a space, from left to right, of quite six feet, their 
circumference being at least eighteen. 

War was, however, declared against paniers, just as in former 
times against vertugadins ; the clergy especially attacked them 

An Oratorian named Duguet published a "Traite de I'lndecence 
des Paniers." After many phrases wide of the mark, we come 
to the following, which seems to be the best argument of all 
against paniers : " This fashion is owned, even by those who are 
most devoted to it, to be very inconvenient. Paniers are most 
uncomfortable, both for the wearer and for every one else." But 
ladies heard the Oratorian and heeded not, any more than they had 
heeded an edict which, during the madness induced by Law's 
speculations, had forbidden them to wear jewels or diamonds, for 
fear they might be exchanged for shares or notes of the Mississippi 

The "Journal de Verdun," October, 1724, writes in the same 
spirit as Pere Duguet : " In former times mothers used to take 
exceeding pains that their daughters should have slender and 
supple waists ; but at the present day the vertugadins of Spain 
and Italy have been introduced into F"rance under the name of 
paniers; this is a fashion conducive to false modesty." But the 
ladies in this instance, also, heard and heeded not, and the "Journal 
de Verdun" after a time discontinued its attacks. 

Many cases of conscience were argued out between Jesuits and 
Jansenists on the subject of paniers. One member of the Society 
of Jesus wrote a little work called " L'Entretien d'une Femme de 
Qualite avec son Directeur sur les Paniers." It was published in 
1737, and is a very scarce and curious little book. 

An anonymous pamphlet had been published in 1727, entitled, 
"Satire sur les Cerceaux, Paniers, Criardes, et Manteaux Volants 


des Femmes, et sur leurs autres ajustements." The author 
expatiates on his hatred of cages, and of showy dress. 

A pamphlet pubhshed in Paris in 1735, and entitled, "Indignite 
et Extravagance des Paniers pour des Femmes Sensees et Chre- 
tiennes," contains the following lines : — - 

" But I wish to know, ladies, by what evil genius you are 
possessed, and what can be your opinion of us, that you endeavour, 
when in such deplorable case, to pass yourselves off to us and to 
the eyes of the Christian world as spiritual and devout persons, 
while you are laden with an immense and superb panier that takes 
up the room of at least six persons, and is the miserable cause 
of the inconvenience you experience in passing along, having to 
hold your panier in both hands, and displaying wooden hoops 
under an arrogant and splendid skirt. . . . 

" Is it not the said panier also that makes your carriages groan, 
and that bulges through them like the sails of a ship, while you 
are holding your noble wooden hoop in both hands, and displaying 
it beneath a costume that is a scandal to the Church, and a 
laughing-stock to the whole world, and that insults the magnifi- 
cence of our altars by its audacious splendour?" 

Ridicule, argument, and religion were all in vain ; neither the 
women of Paris, nor those of the provinces, changed their mode of 
dress in the slightest degree. They even laughed at Voltaire and 
his lines : — ■ 

" Apres diner, I'indolente Glycere 
Sort pour sortir, sans avoir rien a faire. 
On a conduit son insipidite 
Au fond d'un char ou, montant de cote. 
Son corps presse gemit sous les barrieres 
D'un lourd panier ijui flotte aux deux portibres." ■ 

History has probably forgotten a considerable number of the 
appellations bestowed on paniers ; but some have been retained, 

'' " After dinner, the indolent Glycera 

Goes out, just for the sake of going out, having nothing to do. 
Her insipidity is deposited in a chariot. 
Wherein her tightened body groans under the trammels 
Of a heavy panier which protrudes from the two windows." 


such as " paniers a gueridon," or " extinguisher " shape ; and *' a 
coudes," or " elbow paniers," on which the elbows might be 

The fashion prevailed so generally, tha*: our trade with Holland 
was materially augmented. In June, 1722, the States-General 
of the Netherlands authorized a loan of 600,000 florins in support 
of a " company established in East Friesland for the whale fishery, 
the trade in which increased daily by reason of the demand for 
whalebone used in the construction of hoops for women." 

We see here that the result of the polemical discussions described 
above was twofold. Paniers became a question of interest to 
Europe, and a source of profit to Holland. 

The "Journal de Barbier " observes: "It will scarcely be 
believed that the Cardinal de NoaiUes has been much exercised 
with regard to the paniers worn by women under their skirts in 
order to make them stand out. They are so large, that when the 
wearer sits down, the whalebones being pushed fly up in an 
extraordinary manner, and armchairs have had to be constructed 
expressly for them. The largest boxes at the theatre will now 
hold only three women. The fashion has been carried to an 
extreme, and is consequently quite extravagant ; so much so, that 
when the princesses take their seats beside the queen, their skirts 
rise up, and quite conceal those of her majesty. This appeared 
like an impertinence, but it was difficult to find a remedy. At 
last, by dint of reflection, the cardinal invented an expedient — 
there should always be one armchair left empty on each side of 
the queen, who would thus be spared any inconvenience." 

Mdlle. Jaucourt played the part of Galatea in " Pygmalion" in 
1775, and wore a polonaise with paniers, satin slippers, and a 
colossal "pouf" ornamented with green leaves, and surmounted 
by three ostrich feathers. MM. de Beauvau, De Guemenee, De 
Pompadour, and others, had supplied her wardrobe. A great 
number of the court ladies sent her beautiful dresses, made by 
themselves, and worn at the Dauphin's marriage, that she might 
appear in them on the stage. Louis XV. presented her with a 
theatrical costume. 


In November, 172 1, he had given Mme. de Seine, an actress 
of the Comedie Fran9aise, a coat worth 8000 francs. Nine 
hundred ounces of silver were woven into the material. 

At about the same time the Comte de Charolais presented 
Mdlle. Delisle with a costume of pure silver, worth 2000 crowns, 
in which she danced a "pas" in the ballet of Pirithous. 

Mdlles. Clairon and Hus, of the Comedie Fran^aise, gave up 
wearing on the stage " the awkward machine called a fanier," and 
a little book was published shortly afterwards, called " Les Paniers 
supprimes au Theatre." Some ladies of high rank followed the 
example of the two celebrated actresses. 

Mdlles. Clairon and Hus had exercised more influence than 
preachers, pamphleteers, or journalists ! 

Actuated by a hatred of paniers, a poetaster wrote in praise of 
corsets, and women discarded one folly for another. 

" Est-il rien pluS beau qu'un corset, 
Qui naturellement figure, 
Et qui montre coinme on est fait 
Dans le moule de la nature?"^ 

Thereupon women wore the bodice of their gowns tightly 
drawn in at the waist, and with busks that bruised the chest of 
the wearer. 

Then again, as in 1694, sleeves were made flat, and trimmed 
with frills. A new material was used for gowns, little bouquets 
printed or brocaded on a ground of silk, marcelline, or satin. 
The arms were protected from the cold by a miniature mufi^ and 
warm furs. 

" Robes volantes," or loose gowns without a belt, came into 
general use about 1730. For the most part they were made of 
white or rose-coloured silk, especially for young girls, who also 
often wore gauze or embroidered muslin frocks over a coloured 
silk slip. 

' " Is there anything more beautiful than a corset. 
Which naturally defines the figure, 
And shows how one is made 
In the mould of nature?" 


A few years later, Christophe Philippe Oberkampf introduced 
" indiennes," or coloured prints, into France. On their first 
appearance, such jealousy was excited in the various guilds, that 
not only were those who manufactured them sent to the galleys, 
but women who ventured to wear these prints were liable to a 
fine on a mere accusation. The examiners at the custom stations 
were directed to remove by force the gown of any delinquent, or 
even to tear it in pieces while on her back. It is difficult in our 
day to understand such severe treatment. 

Before Oberkampf 's time, coloured cambrics from India, called 
" Perses " or " Persiennes," because they came by way of Persia, 
were much worn. A beautiful persienne was of more value than 
a silk gown. The most brilliant woman, perhaps, of the period 
entreated the French ambassador in Russia to procure her a set 
of furs and some " perse." Yet a while, and the purchase of a 
gown would have become an afiair of state ; or the king might 
have declared war in order to obtain a costume desired by the 

The hair was dressed " en dorlotte " (or pamper-fashion), " en 
papillon " (or butterfly-like), " en vergette " (or whisk-fashion), 
and " en desespoir " (despair), " equivoque " (suspicious-wise), 
and " en tete de mouton " (sheep's head). A kind of curtainless 
hood was worn, called a " bagnolette." 

In summer, women wore the mantilla, a variety of the scarf, 
and in winter, furred pelisses, buttoned from top to bottom. 
They wore embroidered stockings and white shoes with high heels, 
as previously. The ambition of all was to have the smallest 
possible shoes ; and women contrived, as it were, to manufacture 
feet for their shoes, in imitation of Camargo, the dancer, whose 
shoemaker amassed a large fortune. Parasols, or sunshades, were 
not made to close ; umbrellas, on the contrary, were made to fold 
and shut. 

Among the accessories of dress were necklaces, bags or reticules, 
persistently called " ridicules," " poupottes," or horsehair pockets 
which the " bourgeoises " wore fastened to their gowns, eyeglasses 
mounted in gold and enamel, gold needle-cases, tablets set in 


chased gold, and crosses of gold filagree. To these we must add 
powder scattered on the hair, which was drawn up in a tuft, and 
kept in its place by a silk chin-band, patches of black silk sticking- 
plaister, and the white and red paint, which many women laid on 
so thickly that their faces were quite incrusted with it. A woman 
of rank would have lost all consideration had she appeared at the 
promenades without her patches and her rouge. 

Both paint and patches were used in the very last toilet of 
princesses — that of the tomb. 

Every woman of fashion possessed a patch-box, whose lid 
was lined with looking-glass. A very pretty one in pink mother- 
of-pearl, inlaid with silver and designs of figures, was to be seen at 
the Exhibition in 1878. 

The " impassioned " patch was fixed at the corner of the eye ; 
the " gallant " in the middle of the cheek ; the " receleuse " (or 
receiver of stolen goods) on a spot or pimple; the " effrontee," or 
bold-faced, on the nose; and the "coquette" on the lips. A 
round patch was called " the assassin." 

The widespread fashion of patches afforded further opportunities 
for criticism. Massillon preached a sermon in which he anathe- 
matized patches. The effect produced by his discourse was rather 
unexpected ; patches were worn in greater numbers than ever, 
and were known as " mouches de Massillon." Fashion was 
incapable of reverence, and triumphed over every kind of 

It was generally held that patches conferred an appearance of 
youth. Mme. de Genlis said on one occasion to an author, 
whom she honoured by allowing him to see her place two or 
three patches on her cheek and chin, — 

" Well ! what do you think of that ? Would you not take me 
for a girl of twenty? " 

Powder, i.e. starch powdered and scented, was in common use 
under Louis XV. ; and in the reign of Henri IV., as Estoile 
observed in 1593, nuns had even been seen walking in Paris, with 
their hair curled and powdered, but this, it must be admitted, was 
an exception. No lady appeared at the promenades, the theatre. 


or the court of Versailles, without what was called an " osil," or 
slight sprinkling of powder. 

The " iilles de mode," as fashionable milliners were called in 
the eighteenth century, had no light duties to perform. It was a 
serious task to dress a lady of quality from head to foot. They 
had to carry out the ideas that originated with the queens of society. 
According to Mme. de Lespinasse, the prim Mme. du DefFant 
" was the best milliner of her day," that is, her taste in composing 
an irreproachable costume was superior to all others, and the 
greatest coquettes copied the fashions seen in her drawing-room. 

In " La Mode," a comedy in three acts by Mme. de Staal, a 
marquis is made to say,— 

" You need only hear an account of our day ! In the morning, 
discussions with workpeople and tradespeople over the choice of 
our dress ! And what trouble do we not take to secure the last 
novelty, to choose all that is in the best taste, and to avoid any 
prejudice concerning a particular fashion ! . . . Next comes the 
excessive labour of making our toilet, with all the attention 
necessary to ensure being well dressed . . . ." 

The Comtesse de Mailly retired to rest every night with her 
hair dressed, and wearing all her diamonds. She used to call her 
tradespeople " her little cats." 

High head-dresses came into fashion again for a short time, 
during the reign of gigantic paniers, and were worn with powder. 
It took a whole day to complete one of those monuments of the 
capillary art, which were of such enormous size, that according to 
" Le Mercure de France" of 17JO, ladies could not sit in their 
coaches, but were obliged to kneel. 

" Their woolly white hair," says Lady Mary Wortley Montague, 
who visited Paris at the time, " and fiery faces, make them look 
more like skinned sheep than human beings." 

Mme. de Graffigny, the author of " Lettres Peruviennes," 
protested against the high head-dress. She wore her hair pow- 
dered, but close to her head and covered with a httle cap. This 
" little cap " was adopted by many women of rank, and for several 
years was worn by all Frenchwomen. Women of the people still 


wear round caps with two plaited wings coming forward on the 
temples, and called " le bat en I'oeil." "The bourgeoises have 
retained," says " Le Livre de la Coiffure," "the full-crowned cap, 
surrounded with ribbon twists or bows, with two lappets falling 
over the chignon, and frills of lace curving round the temples." 

Some ephemeral fashions were introduced into France by the 
Polish princess Maria Leczinska, the wife of Louis XV. 

" Hongrelines" were worn, and polonaises, or " hongroises," 
trimmed with " brandebourgs ;" and, in 1729, embroidered man- 
tillas of velvet and satin lined with ermine or other fur, the two 
ends finished with handsome tassels, that were tied behind the 

The " palatine " was thus no longer a solitary German fashion 
on the banks of the Seine. 

Powder remained in vogue for more than half a century. No 
doubt the softness it conferred on the features, and the brilliancy 
it lent to the eyes, made it pleasing to everybody. It was still 
worn in 1760, and again in 1780, and after the Revolution it 
reappeared under the Directory in 1795. 

There is no occasion, therefore, to speak of powder more 
particularly. In 1760, a lady wore powder, but her hair was 
drawn back " a la Chinoise," and on the summit was a small knot 
of coloured silk. She wore stays, despite all that might be said 
against them by the doctors and the critics ; and a fichu or 
kerchief straight across the shoulders, and called a " monte-au- 
ciel.'' She had a " casaquin " or a " caraco." She wore as her 
only garment a " peignoir," a loose robe not confined at the waist, 
and fastened down the front with bows of ribbon. Round the 
throat was a ruche ot the same material as the dress ; the sleeves 
extended to the wrist, where they became considerably wider, and 
could either be hooked up like those of French advocates at the 
present day, or were finished off with turned-back cuffs. 

The first Indian shawl, or " cachemire," seen in our country 
was imported towards the end of the reign of Louis XV. It was 
long the talk of both court and town^ but no attempt was made 
to manufacture similar shawls in France. 


At the period we have now reached, the simphcity of women's 
attire contrasts with previous styles ; and is in harmony with the 
serious tone of society under Louis XVI. 

A transformation in dress is at hand. We are about to see 
extraordinary and brilliant fashions adopted by ladies of rank, and 
by those of the " haute bourgeoisie," but not followed by the 
middle classes, on account of their great cost. The guests at 
Versailles and Trianon could afford to dress " a la mode," because 
their wealth was immense and their extravagance boundless. 

The reign of lace ended with the eighteenth century, for Louis 
XVI. cared little for embroidery and finery. 

The drive to Longchamps in Holy Week afforded to the rich 
an opportunity of displaying the splendour both of their equipages 
and their dress, and it has continued to exist to the present day. 




Jf L 








^ or) 
m CO 



1774 TO I7S0. 

The influence of Marie Antoinette on fashion — Letter from Maria Theresa — Leonard and 
Mdlle. Berlin — Various styles of head-dresses — "Pouf" — The "Journal deParis" — Reign 
of Louis XVL — Male and female hair-dressers — Plumes — Hair worn low — The queen's 
" puce "-coloured gown ; shades of colour in dresses — Oberkampf and the Jouy prints 
— Expensive satins — Trimmings, their great number and importance — Gauze, blond, 
tulle, and ribbons — Some kinds of shoes — Venez-y-voir — The " Archduchess " ribbons — 
A dress worn at the opera. 

We have now reached the reign of Louis XVI., when Marie 
Antoinette was holding her court. She had already begun to set 
the fashion when only Dauphiness. 

One day, in 1775, the new queen took up from her dressing-table 
two peacock feathers, and placed them with several little ostrich 
plumes in her hair. Louis XVI. came in, and greatly admired 
his wife, saying he had never seen her look so well. Almost 
immediately feathers came into fashion, not in France only, 
but throughout Europe. But when, shortly afterwards, Marie 
Antoinette sent a portrait of herself, wearing large feathers as a 
head-dress, to her mother, the Empress Maria Theresa returned it. 
" There has been, no doubt, some mistake," wrote Maria Theresa ; 
" I received the portrait of an actress, not that of a queen ; I am 
expecting the right one." 

This severe rebuke had no effect. Before 1778 the hair had 
been so arranged as to form a point in front, called a " physionomie," 
accompanied by "attentions," or thick, separate curls. But in 
1778 the queen invented the " herisson," or hedge-hog style of 
head-dress. Imagine a porcupine lying on the top of the head, 
that is to say, a bush of hair frizzed from the points to the roots, 



very high and without powder, and encircled by a ribbon that 
kept this horrible tangle in its place. This style of head-dress, 
somewhat modified, and reduced to a " demi-herisson," or half 
hedgehog, was in fashion for several years. 

Marie Antoinette continued to invent new styles, such as 
"jardin a I'anglaise," "parterre," "forest," "enamelled meadows," 
" foaming torrents," &c. How many ridiculous names were given 
to the inventions of ladies endeavouring to imitate and surpass 
their queen! The hair was dressed "butterfly" fashion, or 
" spaniels' ears," or " milksop," or " gueridon," or "commode," 
or "cabriolet,'' or "mad dog," or "sportsman in a bush," by 

At the clubs or in the public gardens, every one talked in 
raptures of the achievements of Leonard, " Academician in coiffures 
and fashions," and those of Mdlle. Bertin, a milliner who at a later 
period delivered herself as follows : — 

" The last time I worked with the queen, we decided that the 
new caps should not come out for another week." 

A didactic mode of expression ! Turgot or Necker could not 
have spoken more solemnly. It is true that Mdlle. Berlin's fame 
had spread throughout Europe. 

In the " coiffure a la Dauphine " the hair was curled, and then 
drawn up from the forehead, falling at the back of the head ; that 
called " monte-au-ciel " was of enormous size. 

In 1765, caps were worn " a la Gertrude," so called from the 
opera-comique Isabelle et Gertrude, by Favart and Blaise ; and 
in 1768, caps " a la moissonneuse " (the reaper) and " a la glaneuse" 
(the gleaner) came into fashion, copied from those worn in the 
opera of the Moissonneurs, by Favart and Duni. Head-dresses 
named " d'apparat " (or state head-dresses) or " loges d'opera " 
(opera-box head-dresses) were seventy-two inches in height ; they 
came in in 1772. Gluck's Iphigenie en Aulide was performed in 
1774. The singer who took the part of Iphigenia wore, when 
about to be sacrificed, a wreath of black flowers, surmounted by a 
silver crescent, and a long white veil flowing behind. Every lady 
immediately adopted the lugubrious coiffure " a I'lphigenie." 


Now that we are on the subject of theatricals, I may mention 
that in 1778, Devismes, the director of the opera, made it a rule 
that only head-dresses of moderate height might be worn in the 

The comet of 1773 gave its name to certain head-dresses, in 
which flame-coloured ribbons played a striking part; in 1774 a 
" quesaco " head-dress was invented,' consisting in part of a large 
bunch of plumes behind the head. At court the " pouf au 
sentiment"' was much in favour; it was composed of various 
ornaments fastened in the hair, viz. birds, butterflies, cardboard 
Cupids, branches of trees, and even vegetables. Louis Philippe's 
mother wore a "pouf" in which every one might admire the Due 
de Beaujolais, her eldest son, in the arms of his nurse, a parrot 
pecking at a cherry, a little negro, and various designs worked 
with the hair of the Dukes of Orleans, Chartres, and Penthievre. 

The " coiffure a la Belle Poule " consisted of a ship in full sail, 
reposing on a sea of thick curls. In the " Jeu des Costumes et des 
Coiffures des Dames," an imitation of the " Royal Game of Goose," 
the winning number, sixty-three, was assigned to the " Belle 

The scaffolding of gauze, flowers, and feathers was raised to 
such a height that no carriages could be found lofty enough for 
ladies' use. The occupants were obliged either to put their heads 
out of the windows, or to kneel on the carriage floor, so as to 
protect the fragile structures. This seems like a return to the 
reign of Louis XV. 

In a letter addressed to the actors of the Italian Theatre, in 
January 1784, by Lenoir, the lieutenant of police, we read as 
follows : " There are constant complaints of the size of head- 
dresses and hats, which, being loaded with plumes, ribbons, and 
flowers, intercept the view of spectators in the pit. . . ." 

A number of caricatures, of which some — to the horror of all 
monarchists — actually reproduced the features of Marie Antoinette, 
were brought out in ridicule of the fashionable head-dresses. 

'This is a Provengal expression, meaning, " What does it mean?" or 
" What is it all about ? " 

M 2 


Hair-dressing was a difficult art, requiring time and labour. 
Country ladies employed a resident female hair-dresser in their 
house, by the year, and on the occurrence of any family festival 
she would be kept at work, nearly the whole day. 

In order to show the importance of this subject, we quote from 
the "Journal de Paris " of February lo, 1777, to which was added 
a supplementary engraving with the following explanation: — 

" VVe add to our issue of this day an engraving representing two 
different dressings of the hair, back and side views ; they are 
drawn from nature by a clever artist who has been kind enough to 
give us his assistance. The figures i and 2 refer to one of these 
methods, the figures 3 and 4 to the other. 

" If by this attempt we succeed in giving pleasure to those 
ladies who are included among our subscribers, we shall be happy 
to renew an expenditure that proves our zeal in their service." 

No satire was intended by the above publication. The " Journal 
de Paris " was a grave production, and the prints it published 
were of " moderate " head-dresses, if I may so express myself, of 
no excessive height, powdered, and such as might be worn by 
bourgeoises without appearing extraordinary. 

Besides the fashions we have described, there were others from 
1774 to 1789, viz. " Grecques a boucles badines " (or Greek with 
playful ringlets), " a I'ingenue," " a la conseilhere," " I'oiseau 
royal," " chien couchant," " les parterres galants," " les caleches 
retroussees," and many others, the description of which would fill 

Marie Antoinette continued to rule the fashionable world ; nor 
can we be surprised that the flattery of courtiership " took up the 
tale." In honour of Louis XVI. 's accession, hats were invented 
under the name of "delights of the Augustan age," and a colour 
called " queen's hair," of a pretty blonde tint. 

For many years a great rivalry had subsisted between the male 

^ It will not assist the reader's imagination much to give the translation of 
these extraordinary names ; but here they are : " the ingenuous maiden," 
'• the counsellor's wife," "the royal bird," "dog lying down," "gallant pits," 
" calfeches with the hoods up." 


and female hair-dressers, and towards 1775 an amusing law-suit 
was commenced between the former and the wig-making barbers. 
" We are," contended the hair-dressers, " essentially ladies' hair- 
dressers. . . . What are the duties of barbers? To shave 
heads, and purchase the severed hair ; to give the needful plait by- 
means of fire and iron to locks that are no longer living ; to fix 
them in tresses with the help of a hammer ; to arrange the hair of 
a Savoyard on the head of a marquis ; to remove the attribute of 
their sex from masculine chins with a sharp blade ; all these are 
purely mechanical functions that have no connexion with our 
art. . . ." 

They went on to say that the art of dressing women's hair was 
nearly allied to genius ; and that in order to exercise it nobly, one 
should be at once a poet, a painter, and a sculptor. " It is 
necessary to understand shades of colour, chiaro oscuro, and the 
proper distribution of shadows, so as to confer animation on the 
complexion, and make other charms more expressive. The art of 
dressing a prude, and of letting pretensions be apparent, yet with- 
out thrusting them forward ; that of pointing out a coquette, and 
of making a mother look like her child's elder sister, of adapting 
the style of dress to the disposition of the individual, which must 
sometimes be guessed at, or to the evident desire of pleasing . . . 
in fine, the art of assisting caprices, and occasionally controlling 
them, requires a more than common share of intellect, and a tact 
with which one must be born." 

I am not drawing on my imagination. The memorial of the 
ladies' hair-dressers is still In existence, and bears the names of the 
procureur and advocate-general of the time. The artists in hair 
exclaim in poetical accents, " If the locks of Berenice have been 
placed among the stars, who shall say that she reached that height 
of glory unaided by us ! " They vaunt their honesty : " The 
treasures of Golconda are continually passing through our hands ; 
it is we who decide how to arrange diamonds, crescents, sultanas 
(a particular form of necklace), aigrettes." They compare them- 
selves to heroes : " A general knows how to take advantage of a 
demi-lune in front of his position — in the van, he has his engineers ; 


we, too, are engineers so far ; a crescent advantageously placed by 
us is hard to contend against, and it seldom happens that the 
enemy does not surrender at discretion ! . . . A lady's hair-dresser 
is, as it were, the first officer of the toilet . . . and under his 
artistic hands, amid his artistic influences, does the rose expand 
and acquire her most brilliant beauty." 

The conclusion to be drawn is that wig-makers and their 
assistants are evidently unfit to dress the hair of women. 

The law proceedings, however, did not prevent the competition 
of wig-makers and female hair-dressers, even at the period when 
all trade guilds were suppressed. 

" The toilet of the queen of France was a masterpiece of 
etiquette, according to Mme. Campan; everything was done by 
rule : the lady of honour and the lady of the bedchamber were both 
present, assisted by the first dresser, and two others who did the 
principal part of the service ; but there were distinctions to be 
observed. The lady of the bedchamber (dame d'atours) put on 
the queen's petticoat and handed her gown, the lady of honour 
poured out water for washing the royal hands, and put on the 
queen's chemise." 

Marie Antoinette carried the fashion of " panaches " or plumes 
to an extreme. If we may believe Soulavie's memoirs of the 
period, "when Marie Antoinette passed through the gallery at 
Versailles, one could see nothing but a forest of waving plumes a 
foot and a half higher than the ladies' heads." The king's aunts, 
who could not make up their minds to follow such extraordinary 
fashions, nor to copy the queen's dress day by day, used to call 
her feathers " ornaments for the hair." 

The majority of the court ladies, however, imitated the 

Hats and caps were so overladen with feathers, that not only 
were coaches too small to contain the plumed dames of the period, 
but ladies were fain to bend their heads in the " entresols " of 
certain suites of rooms, because of the lowness of the ceilings." 

" Nevertheless," says a lady of -the court, " it was a fine sight 
to see that forest of plumes in the Versailles Gallery, waving with 


the least breath of air. It looked liked a moving garden of bright- 
coloured flowers, gently caressed by the zephyrs." 

There was, however, a party in opposition. According to 
Mme. Campan, " mothers and husbands grumbled, and there was 
a general feeling that the queen would ruin all the French ladies." 
But discontent and criticism were vain ; Fashion as usual had her 
way, and feathers sometimes fetched as much as fifty louis (1250 
francs) apiece. 

Generally speaking, the smallest caprices of Marie Antoinette 
were received as law by the ladies of the court. When, on the 
occasion of the birth of one of her children, her beautiful fair hair 
was cut off, and she consequently adopted a "coiffure basse," 
the " coiffure a I'enfant," or baby's head-dressing, immediately 
became the rage. No one could be found to say a word against 
it, nor to hesitate at sacrificing her hair to the prevailing fashion, 
7'here were, nevertheless, many styles of dressing the hair : " au 
plaisir des dames" (the ladies' pleasure), "a I'urgence " (the 
urgent), and " a la paresseuse " (the idle). At the same time 
various hats came into fashion, viz. the " artiste " (the artist), the 
"grandes pretentions," (great pretensions), the "bandeau d'amour " 
(the bandeau of love), the " Carmelite," the " lever de la reine " 
(Queen's lever), the " novice de Cythere " (the Cytherean novice), 
and the " pretresse de Venus" (the priestess of Venus). The 
hat " a la revoke " was so called in allusion to the Flour warfare, 
or Grain disturbances, under Turgot. 

When Marie Antoinette took a fancyfor playing at shepherdesses 
and a so-called rural life at Trianon, the great ladies of Versailles 
dressed their hair " a la laitiere " (milkmaid) and " a la paysanne 
de la cour " (court peasant). The Parisians, on the contrary, wore 
successively hats "a la Suzanne" (from Le Mariage de Figaro), 
" a la Randon " (from Bayard, a play by Monvel), and " a la 
diademe," or turban-shaped. 

In the early summer of 1775, ^^e queen made her appearance in 
gown of a kind of chestnut-brown, and the king said laughingly, — 
"That puce (flea) colour becomes you admirably." 
The next day every lady at the court wore a puce-coloured 


gown, old puce, young puce " ventre de puce " (flea's belly), 
"dos de puce " (flea's back), &c. 

As the new colour did not soil easily, and was therefore less 
expensive than lighter tints, the fashion of puce gowns was 
adopted by the bourgeoisie, and the dyers were unable to meet the 
pressing requirements of their customers. 

During the reign of Louis XVI., many new colours were worn, 
either in combination or successively, such as "puce," " rash tears," 
" Paris mud," Carmelite, " entraves de procureurs " (procureur's 
tricks), &c. These were all quiet colours, and were used for 
simple costumes. 

In 1763, the Opera House was burnt down ; and the fine ladies 
would wear nothing but " couleur tison d'opera," or " brand from 
the opera;" in 1781, they held to "opera briile," or burnt 
opera-house. I should find it difficult to describe these two 
shades otherwise than as flame-coloured. 

After the performance of Athalie at the Court Theatre, in 
1780, women of fashion wore the Jewish Levitical tunic; and 
shortly after the opera of Atys (by Quinault and Lulli) had 
resumed its place on the stage, they dressed their hair " a la doux 
sommeil " (gentle slumber). Mme. Dugazon, in Blaise et Babet, 
an opera by Desede (1783 ), wore a blue silk skirt shot with pink, 
and shot silks became all the fashion. In 1786 the same actress 
set the fashion of caps " a la Nina," from Dalayrac's opera of 
that name, " Coifi^ures a la Creole " were worn next, made of 
Madras handkerchiefs, like those in Kreutzer's opera of Paul et 
Virginie ; and lastly, hats " a la Primerose," from another play of 

During many years of the reign of Louis XVI., the court of 
Versailles was ignorant of the very name of Oberkampf, a 
manufacturer who had at last (1759) obtained permission to 
establish a factory of coloured prints (indiennes) near Versailles. 

A mere accident made him suddenly famous. A certain great 
lady, whose Persian cambric was the envy of all the princesses, 
had the misfortune to tear it. She hastened to the factory at 
Jouy, and claimed the help of Oberkampf, who succeeded in his 


efForts to produce a similar gown, and whose name was immediately 
in every one's mouth. The ladies at Versailles would wear nothing 
but Jouy cambrics ; and from that time prints have been constantly 
worn by the women of the people, but they are seldom seen at 
the present day. 

Gowns trimmed with one material only were much in favour ; 
straw-coloured satin was very much used. These dresses were 
trimmed in various ways, either with gauze, lace, or fur. There 
were innumerable varieties of trimming, besides brocaded or 
painted satin, and each had its own special name. 

The most fashionable tint for satin was either " soupir etoufFe" 
(stifled sigh), or apple-green with white stripes, called " vive 
bergere " (the lively shepherdess). 

Some of the names given to trimmings are curious, and remind 
us of the " precieuses " of the Hotel de Rambouillet. Such are : 
" indiscreet complaints," " great reputation," " the unfeeling," 
" an unfulfilled wish," " preference," " the vapours," " the sweet 
smile," " agitation," " regrets," and many others. 

Paniers were generally small, but padded at the top. Shoes, 
either puce colour or " queen's hair," were embroidered in 
diamonds, and women's feet might be compared to jewel-cases. 
Long narrow shoes, with the seam at the heel studded with 
emeralds, were called in the trade " venez-y-voir," or " come- 

Women wore over their shoulders an arrangement of lace, 
gauze, or blond, closely gathered, and called " Archiduchesse,' 
or " Medicis," or " collet monte." Tulle was in great request, 
and was manufactured everywhere. 

As for ribbons, the most fashionable were called " attention," 
" a sign of hope," " a sunken eye," "the sigh of Venus," "an 
instant," and " a conviction." Sashes were worn " a la Praxitele," 
an opera by Devismes. Once more we are reminded of Moliere's 
" Precieuses." 

A great sensation was caused at the' opera one night by the 
arrival of a lady dressed as follows. Her gown was " a stifled 
sigh " trimmed with " superfluous regrets," with a bow at the 


waist of" perfect innocence," ribbons of " marked attention," and 
shoes of " the queen's hair" embroidered in diamonds, with the 
" venez-y-voir " in emeralds. Her hair was curled in "sustained 
sentiments," a cap of " assured conquest " trimmed with waving 
feathers and ribbons of "sunken eye," a "cat" or palatine of 
swans'-down on her shoulders of a colour called " newly-arrived 
people " (parvenus), a " Medicis " arranged " as befitting," a 
" despair " in opals, and a muff of " momentary agitation." 

Since that evening how many extraordinary costumes have been 
displayed at the opera, and have attracted the attention of the 
fair spectators ! 





I7S0 TO I7S9. 

Peasant dress is universal — Fashion " a la Marlborough " — Caps — Bonnets — Mdlles. Fredin 
and Quentin — Ruches — Low bodices; "postiches" — Costume of Contat- Suzanne 
— Fashions "a la Figaro" — Literature and politics signified in dress; the Princess 
de Monaco's pouf — Pouf " a la circonstance ;" the " inoculation " pouf — The " innocence 
made manifest" caraco — The "harpy" costume — Coats, cravats, and waistcoats — 
Sailor jackets and " pierrots " — Deshabilles ; " the lying fichu " — Etiquette in dress — 
Seasonable costumes — The queen's card-table — State of trade in Paris, circa 1787 — 
" Pinceauteuses," or female colourers. 

In 1780 the Ideal of Fashion was the peasant costume. Duchesses 
playing at milkmaids in the park at Trianon adored everything 
rural, and did their best to resemble shepherdesses. They longed 
to play the parts of Mathurlne and Nicolette, only their diamonds 
must still be allowed them. The Chevalier de Florian was 
beginning to acquire a reputation as a writer of pastoral romances, 
very much to the taste of the ladies of his time. His novel of 
" Estelle and Nemorin " inculcated bucolic manners and graces. 

But the humblest fashions may be splendidly travestied ! Cap- 
bonnets were adopted by all the court ladies, but in combination 
with flowers, ribbons, and feathers, composing a charming spring- 
like head-dress. 

The smallest caprice of Marie Antoinette was still sedulously 
copied. One day she began singing the air of " Marlbrouck," 
and all French ladies immediately dressed " a la Marlborough," and 
sung their queen's favourite air from morning to night. Mme. 
Rose Bertin forwarded costumes " a la Marlborough" to England, 

In the previous century, Bachaumont had written as follows : — 
" Ever since the song came out, Marlborough has become the hero 


of every fashion ; everything nowadays is ' a la Marlborough,' 
and all the ladies walk about the streets, or go to the play, wear- 
ing the grotesque hat in which they are pleased to bury their 
charms, so great is the empire of novelty." 

Marie Antoinette partially revived the rage for fashions " a la 

Four years later. Frenchwomen gave up the caps I have 
mentioned for straw bonnets from Italy, which were immediately 
preferred above all others, and which remained in fashion for 
above a century. One milliner would choose a shape with 
perpendicular crown, hidden under a mass of ribbon ; another 
would adopt an enormous funnel-shaped brim, loaded with feathers 
or flowers. 

It has been calculated that in the course of two years, from 
1784 to 1786, the shapes of hats were changed seventeen 
times. There were some called hat-caps, " chapeau-bonnets," 
because their balloon shape resembled a cap. There were small 
close shapes in silk, trimmed with feathers and flowers, worn on 
one side of the head ; and soon afterwards there were very large 
bonnets " a I'amiral." We read in the " Journal des Modes de 
Paris," 1785: "There is a hat on view at Mdlle. Predin's, 
milliner, at the sign of the ' Echarpe d'Or ' (Golden Scarf), Rue 
de la Ferronnerie, on which is represented a ship, with all her 
rigging complete, and her battery of guns. ... At Mdlle. 
Quentin's, in the Cite, there are ' pouf ' hats composed of military 
trophies, the flags and drums arranged on the brim have a 
charming effect." Some hats were so enormously large that they 
overshadowed the whole face like a parasol. And some aimed at 
satire ; they were of black gauze, and called " a la Caisse d'Es- 
compte," because they were without crowns (sans fond). This 
referred to the wretched state of the public treasury ; the Caisse 
d'Escompte having just suspended payment. 

Gowns, whether of silk or of plain material, continued to be 
made open down the front, over an under-skirt of another 
colour ; but for a simple style of dress, both skirts might be alike. 

Gimp trimmings had been succeeded by ruches of muslin or 


lace, sewn to the edge of the dress, and arranged Hke flounces. 
Sleeves were always tight and short ; fans and bracelets, pearl 
necklaces, and sometimes a watch, fastened at the side, were worn 
also, and immense earrings " a la Creole," that had been first seen in 
Mirza, a ballet by Gardel. Gowns were worn rather long, scarcely 
revealing the satin shoes with buckles, and the smooth-drawn white 

We may here recall the " calembourg " made by the Marquis 
de Brevre to Marie Antoinette : " Madame," said he, " ' I'uni 
vert ' (the universe) is at your feet." 

By way of compensation for the length of the skirts, bodices 
were cut so low that the shoulders were visible. 

Paniers were out of date, but " postiches " had taken their place. 
These postiches soon became so enormous, that even young and 
slender women looked like towers of silk, lace, ribbon, and flowers. 
Fashionable marquises wore satin pelisses, white, pink, or sky 
blue, trimmed with ermine or miniver, and a muffin winter. 

Occasionally, in a fit of simplicity, they contented themselves 
with a silk hat, and an elegant caraco, or a satin mantle trimmed 
with broad lace. 

Sometimes, also, they expressed their literary or political pro- 
clivities by their dress. 

The " Philadelphia " cap was intended to commemorate the 
independence of the United States, about the time of Franklin's 
visit to Paris. 

The immense success of Le Mariage de Figaro effected a 
change in the fashions, and the costume in which Mdlle. Emilie 
Contat had been applauded to the echo in the part of Suzanne 
became the order of the day. All that year, the ladies adopted 
" le deshabille a la Suzanne," dressed their hair " a la Cherubino," 
wore their gowns " a la Comtesse," and their bonnets and caps " a 
la Figaro." 

After the performance of La Brouette du Finaigrier, by 
Mercier, caps "a la brouette" (wheelbarrow) came into fashion. 
La Caravane, by Gretry, brought out caps "a la caravane." 
La Veuve du Malabar, a five-act tragedy by Lemierre, was so 


popular, that extraordinary caps were devised, " a la veuve de 

Louis XVI. thought proper, on a certain occasion, to forbid the 
court in general to enter the royal carriages in order to follow 
the hunt. To ensure greater freedom, he desired the company 
of real sportsmen only. The nobles immediately protested, and 
the Princesse de Monaco expressed her disapproval of the new 
regulation through the medium of her "pouf" hat, on which was 
displayed the king's coach in miniature, padlocked, and two 
gentlemen in gaiters following the hunt on foot. 

On the left side of the " pouf de circonstance," worn at the 
accession of Louis XVL, was a tall cypress, wreathed with 
purple pansies, a twist of crape at the foot represented its roots ; 
on the right was a wheatsheaf lying on a cornucopia, from whence 
tumbled a profusion of figs, grapes, and melons, made of 

In honour of the discovery of inoculation for small-pox, Mdlle. 
Bertin invented the " pouf a I'inoculation," viz. a rising sun, and 
an olive-tree in full fruit ; round this was entwined a serpent 
bearing a club wreathed with flowers. The serpent and the club 
represented medicine, and the art by which the variolous monster 
had been vanquished; the rising sun was emblematic of the young 
king, in whom were centred all the hopes of the monarchists ; and 
the olive-tree symbolized the peace and tranquillity resulting from 
the operation to which the royal princes had submitted. 

The "innocence made manifest" caraco was invented in 1786, in 
honour of Marie Frangoise Victor Salmon, who had been tried on 
a charge of poisoning, and acquitted in the June of that year. The 
counsel for the defence was one Cauchois. The same caracos were 
also called " a la Cauchois." They were of lilac pekin, with 
collars and facings (parements) of apple-green. They were 
fastened on one side of the front by four large mother-of-pearl 
buttons, and similar buttons were placed on the lapels. 

In the catalogue of extraordinary costumes worn in 1783 and 
1784 we must include the "harpy" costume, which owed its 
existence to the published account of the discovery in Chili of a 


two-horned monster, with bat's wings, and human face and hair, 
which was said to devour daily one ox, or four pigs. A song- 
writer composed the following lines against the new fashion : — 

"A la harpie on va tout faire, 
Rubans, levites et bonnets ; 
Alesdames, voire gout s'e'claire : 
Vous quittez les colifichets 
Pour des habits de caractfere." ' 

An anonymous writer gallantly replied : — 

" La harpie est un mauvais choix ; 
Passons sur ce leger caprice ; 
Mais dans les modes quelquefois 
Le sexe se rend mieux justice, 
En suivant de plus dignes lois. 
Mesdames, j'ai vu sur vos tetes 
Les attributs de nos guerriers ; 
On peut bien porter des lauriers, 
Quand on fait comme eux des conquetes." ^ 

The epigram did not modify the "instructed" taste of women, 
who continued to dress themselves "a la harpie" until the 
occurrence of some new whim. Our Frenchwomen, for instance, 
copied the English, who had introduced masculine fashions into 
their dress. 

In all our public resorts, ladies were to be seen in coats, with 
braid and lapels, double capes, and metal buttons. The most 
elegant women were muffled up in cravats, shirt frills, and waist- 

' " Everything is to be ' k la harpie ;' 
Ribbons, frock-coats, and caps ; 
Ladies, your taste grows instructed, 
You are abandoning gewgaws 
For a costume in character." 

' " The ' harpy ' is ill chosen ; 
Let us pardon this caprice ; 
But sometimes in the fashions 
More justice is done to the fair sex, 
And worthier laws prevail. 
Ladies, upon your heads I have seen 
The attributes of our warriors, 
And laurels may fittingly be worn 
By those who are conquerors." 


coats, and wore two watches with chains, " breloques," and seals. 
Some even wore men's hats, and carried canes. 

The same ideas from across the Channel induced women to wear 
sailor jackets and " pierrots." This latter appellation was given to a 
tight-fitting garment, cut low in the neck, and fastening in front, very 
open at the bottom ; the sleeves were tight, with turned over cuffs 
(parements), and the long basques were trimmed with buttons. 

A still more eccentric style of dress was that of gowns " a la 
Circassienne," with a fichu or "canezou," and an undress gown 
" en caraco," so cut as to expose the pit of the stomach, 
notwithstanding the immense cambric kerchief that stood out 
preposterously in front, and was called by the malicious a " fichu 
menteur " (a deceitful or lying fichu). 

Gowns " a I'Anglaise " and " a la Circassienne " were for occa- 
sions of ceremony ; coats, pierrots, and caracos for morning dress. 

We may also mention among the whimsicalities of fashion, 
garments " a la Montgolfier," after the invention of balloons, 
sheath-dresses " a 1' Agnes," and chemises " a la Jesus." 

The difference between full dress and half dress continued to be 
strictly observed ; and before proceeding further we may point 
out that from the reign of Louis XIV. to the French Revolution 
the dress of men and women alike was entirely regulated by 
etiquette, by which we mean not the code of courtiers only, but 
the sanction of recognized custom. 

Materials were classified according to the seasons. In winter, 
dress was restricted to velvet, satin, ratteen, and cloth. After the 
fetes of Longchamp, which may be considered as the assizes of 
fashion, the lace called " point d'Angleterre " made its appearance. 
Mechlin lace was worn in summer. In the intermediary seasons 
of spring and autumn, light cloth, camlets, light velvets, and 
silks were habitually worn. 

Immediately after the Feast of All Saints, November ist, all 
furs were taken from their cardboard receptacles, and at Easter- 
tide most ladies put away their muffs. 

Full dress was obligatory for promenades in the Tuileries 


At court, when a lady had attained her eighth lustre, or, to 
speak more prosaically, when she reached the age of forty, she 
wore a coif of black lace underneath her cap, and tied it below 
her chin. The editor of the "Memoirs of Mme. de Lamballe " 
tells us that after "the queen's card-table" (jeu de la reine) 
most of the ladies retired to change their gowns, because the 
front had been soiled by the gold they had received. Possibly 
they did not wish Louis XVI., who disapproved of the " queen's 
card- table," to perceive that their taste did not correspond 
with his. 

At the close of the eighteenth century, Paris contained 38 
master makers of needles and pins, 542 knitted cap and cufF- 
makers, 82 female bouquet-sellers and florists, 262 embroiderers, 
1824 shoemakers, 1702 dressmakers, 128 fan-makers, 318 workers 
in gold and silver stuffs, &c., 250 glove-makers and perfumers, 
73 diamond-cutters, 659 lingeres, 143 dancing-masters, 2184 
mercers, 700 barbers and male and female wig-makers, 24 feather- 
dressers and plume-mounters, 735 ribbon-sellers, and 1884 cutters- 
out of coats and gowns. 

In 1776 the feather-dressers combined their business with that 
of fashionable dressmakers. Mercers sold lace, silks brocaded in 
gold and silver, gold braid, gold and silver net-work, and woollen 
materials of various kinds. 

Turgot suppressed the guild of female bouquet-vendors, and 
ruled that women should pass " masters " in any profession suitable 
to their sex, not only as embroiderers and milliners, but also as 
hair-dressers. Increased grace and delicacy in feminine attire was 
the result of this innovation. Large numbers of skilled mechanics 
obtained a respectable livelihood by goldsmiths' and jewellery work, 
by skin-dressing, or working in silk, wool, cloth, and cashmere. 
Coloured cottons were sold in great quantities ; women were 
employed in their manufacture, to colour the material. They 
were called " pinceauteuses." Very superior muslin was produced 
in France, and the art of dyeing made continual progress, owing to 
the efforts of the greatest chemists of the age. 

From the princess to the working woman, the fair sex neglected 



nothing that might increase their attractions. A moralist has 
justly observed : " I have heard of women wanting bread, but never 
of one who went without pins." 

We shall meet with some exceptions to this rule during the 
Revolution ; but they only help to prove it, and were of brief 

Ph CO 









1789 TO 1S04. 

The year 1789 — Masculine style of dress — The double dress vanishes — Caps " a la grande 
pretresse," " a la pierrot," and " a la laitiere — The " pouf " bonnet - Paint and powder 
disappear — Prediction by the Cabinet des Modes — Anonymous caps — Cap "a la 
Charlotte Corday " — Trinkets "a la Bastille" — Mme. de Genlis' locket — Cap" a la 
Bastille " — Federal uniforms — Claims to equality in dress — Reaction under the Directory 
— "Incroyables" and " merveilleuses " — Coiffures " a la victime" and " a la Titus" — 
Blond wigs and black wigs— The Hotel Thelusson — Which is the tnost ridiculous ? — 
Mme. Tallien's costume — Epigram on bonnets "a la foUe " — Reticules— Transparent 
dresses — Lines by Despreaux. 

Time has passed, and we have reached the year 1789. For a 
while, at least, we must bid farewell to the reign of Fancy. 
Farewell, Arcadia! Farewell, ye shepherdesses! Fashion is about 
to become simpler, as the horizon darkens. 

At the period we have now reached, the tastes of women were 
serious, just as those of their husbands were political. They 
repaired to the Champs Elysees in the dress of Amazons, wearing 
great coats and black hats, carrying a cane or a whip, wearing a 
watch on each side, and a bunch of rattling " breloques,'' seals, 
and other appendages. Their hats were helmet-shaped. 

Such was the costume of the more audacious among them. 
Others, who shrank from adopting masculine attire, assumed a 
matronly appearance by wearing long trailing gowns of sober tint, 
either in silk or some fancy material. 

All wore very short-waisted bodices, displaying a good deal of 
the bosom, unless it were hidden by a gauze kerchief, or long 
scarf, which was either printed in colours, braided, or brocaded. 

The fashion of two dresses, one worn over the other, that had 
been so general in the latter half of the seventeenth century, and 
the first half of the eighteenth, had completely disappeared in 

N 2 


favour of one gown only. The arms were either altogether bare, 
with a sort of padded strap at the shoulder, or were covered from 
shoulder to wrist by plain tight sleeves. 

Caps were occasionally worn, with velvet or silk crown, lace 
frillings, and a graceful bow of ribbon above the forehead. These 
caps were tied under the chin by a ribbon of the same colour, 
and fastened at the back by a similar rosette. 

The caps of former times were little worn. Some, however, 
still remained in fashion ; for instance, caps " a la grande pre- 
tresse " (high priestess) ; these were made of white gauze, and 
encircled by a broad ribbon. Old ladies still wore caps " a la 
pierrot," trimmed with quantities of lace. Nor were caps "a la 
laitiere " (milkmaid) quite given up ; they were worn at the back 
of the head. In 1789, the national cockade was worn. 

Generally speaking, ladies preferred bonnets, and straw bonnets 
in particular, trimmed with flame-coloured ribbon, and displaying 
waving locks under the brim. Others wore "pouf" bonnets, 
with the most extraordinary arrangements, on the outside, of 
military or naval trophies; these were very popular for several 

Everybody carried a fan, or an embroidered handkerchief, in 
the left hand. 

But the women would no longer use either paint or powder — 
a miracle due to the Revolution. Powder they considered un- 
necessary, paint ridiculous, and both savoured of aristocracy. 

What a change had taken place between 1789 and 1795, in the 
aspect of the fair sex. At the time of the Convocation of the 
Notables, caps were made " a la notable," trimmed with beads, 
artificial flowers, and feathers ; next came caps " a la Turque," " a 
la Bearnaise," and lastly " a I'anonyme," for new names could no 
longer be found for all the vagaries of fashion. 

The "Cabinet des Modes " of Nov. 5, 1790, observes: "Our 
way of living is becoming purified ; extravagance and luxury are 
diminishing." The anticipation was correct, but it applied to a 
very brief period. 

Women either wore caps " a la Charlotte Corday." a shape that 


is well known at the present day, or went bare-headed, or wore at 
most a Greek fillet, or a " baigneuse " trimmed with a large 
tricoloured cockade, and showing the hair turned up in a chignon. 
Expensive costumes were very rarely seen. "Deshabilles" m 
coloured Jouy cambrics, Madras kerchiefs, or small red ones, took 
the place of brocades and silks and velvet caracos. 

Yet Fashion contrived to respond to all the events of the time. 
The smallest trifle that attracted the attention of the masses was 
instantly turned to account in some adjunct of dress. Was a 
rhinoceros or an elephant exhibited at the Jardin des Plantes. 
Instantly caps were manufactured " a I'elephant," or " au 

A swallow pursued by a sparrow-hawk having fallen to the 
ground on the Pont Neuf, a head-dress " a I'hirondelle " was forth- 
with invented. It consisted of two little gauze wings stretched on 
steel springs, which fluttered at each side of the head with the 
lightest breeze. A Chinaman came to Paris, and immediately 
there was a rage for hair dressed " a la Chinoise," and for pointed 
shoes. Crescents were worn in the hair, in honour of the Turkish 
ambassador's arrival in the capital. 

With regard to jewellery, the case was the same. On the 
taking of the Bastille, small fragments of its stones were set in 
gold or silver, and worn as necklaces, bracelets, and rings. The 
well-known Mdlle. de Genlis wore a locket made from a stone of 
the Bastille, cut and polished, and bearing the word " Liberte " 
in brilliants ; above this a diamond represented the planet that 
shone on July 14, and round the locket was a laurel-wreath in 
emeralds, fastened by the national cockade in precious stones — blue, 
red, and white. 

The fashions " a la Bastille " lasted for some time. The cap 
" a la Bastille " represented a doubly castellated tower in black 

A favourite head-dress was a hat, with a spade, a sword, and a 
cross embroidered in green silk, surrounded by olive branches; 
symbolic of the three estates — the nobility, the clergy, and the 
" third " (tiers) — as they met in the Constituent Assembly. 


Fashionable Frenchwomen adorned themselves with jewels " a 
la Constitution," also known under the name of " Rocamboles." 
Their so-called " Constitutional " earrings were of white glass, in 
imitation of rock-crystal, and bore the word " Patrie." A very 
large bouquet, " a la nation," was worn high up on the left side, 
composed of flowers of the three colours, mingled with a profusion 
of myrtle. 

A costume " a la Constitution " comprised a helmet-shaped cap 
of black gauze, a cambric neckerchief, a vermillion sash, and a 
very fine cambric gown covered with little bouquets of white, blue, 
and red flowers. 

In the course of the following year, 1790, the Federation at the 
Champs de Mars was commemorated by the creation of the 
Federal uniform for ladies by a dressmaker of the Palais Royal. 
Fans " a la federation " were on sale, and women, joining in the 
movement, wore hats in honour of " the nation and the charms of 
liberty," with flowers, feathers, and tricoloured ribbons. 

I might give many more examples, for each event of the 
Revolution was marked by a corresponding innovation in dress, but 
let it suffice to state that at the period of which I am speaking, the 
whole theory of fashion was based on the assumption of equality 
in dress. This may be proved by referring to an engraving of 
the time, that I have published in my " Histoire-Musee de la 

All classes were commingled, willingly or unwillingly, through 
love or through fear ; and many wealthy persons rigidly adopted 
simple attire. 

It is easv to understand the efi^ect of this state of things on 
Fashion. The Revolution had proscribed gowns of silk or white 
muslin, as recalling too vividly the attire of the Ancien Regime. 
The Republican style of garment entirely enveloped the wearer, 
and gracefully defined the figure. It was fastened with buttons, 
and a sash " a la Romaine " was knotted on one side. The effect, 
taken as a whole, was charming. Jouy cambric was the material 
usually adopted; the "deshabille a la democrate," however, 
allowed of a " pierrot " in brownish-green satin. 


The reign of Rose Bertiii had ceased with that of Marie 

But although the queen of France found no one to take her 
place, that of the queen of Fashion was aspired to by a Mme. 
Rispal, who, advertising in the " Journal de Paris," " offered a 
choice of dresses 'pekin veloute et lacte ' (velvety and milk-like), 
in African silk and in Chinese satin." She undertook, moreover, 
to make up caracos " a la Nina," " a la Sultane," and " a la 
cavaliere;" short skirts "a la Junon '* and "a la Renommee;" 
and gowns " a la Psyche," " a la menagere," " a la Turque," and 
" au lever de Venus." 

The above were republican garments, of which the cost bore no 
comparison with that of dress in the eighteenth century. 

But the reaction of Thermidor was followed by a reaction in 
dress ; and under the Directory, when the Terror was over, women 
went from one extreme to the other, and spent ruinous sums in 
flowers, jewellery, and diamonds. 

In this respect the year 1795 is a remarkable one. Were the 
fashions of Louis XV.'s time about to return.? Were red heels, 
paniers, powder, and patches "coming in" again? Well, not 
absolutely ; but the return to things of the past was manifested in 
many ways, and the more so because the number of parties, balls, 
and concerts was simply incalculable. 

The imitation of the classical dress worn by the Greeks and 
Romans produced the " incroyables " and the " merveilleuses," 
the mere pictures of whom seem to us at the present day like 
caricatures, and afford us some idea of the extraordinary freaks of 

Carle Vernet has given us admirable types of the " merveilleuses," 
who were the feminine exaggerations of the time of the Directory ; 
of the '-incroyables" it is not within our province to speak. 
However, amid all their exaggeration, the chief types of fashion 
under Barras and La Reveillere-Lepeaux are plainly discernible. 

Anglomania was the rage. " Everything that is untouched by 
Anglomania," says "LeMcssagerdes Dames" in 1797, "is declared, 
by our merveilleuses, to be ' bourgeois' to a frightful degree ; to be 


in hideously bad taste." This somewhat singular predilection, at 
a time when we were at war with the English, is explained by the 
fact that Mdlle. Rose Bertin's workwomen had left France in 
order to take up their residence in London. 

The Anglomania of the " merveilleuses," however, soon faded 
before a more serious passion — ■" anticomania." Every woman 
wished to dress in the antique style, and painters provided models 
for ladies "de grand genre." Head-dresses were various. The 
hair was sometimes cut short and curled, and sometimes powdered 
and drawn back from the face, after a fashion that recalls to some 
extent the reign of Louis XVI. 

Gowns were short waisted, with long tight sleeves or short 
ones, the arms bare, or covered with long kid gloves ; the skirt 
rather trailing, and trimmed with gimp, put on in Greek patterns. 
The foot and white stocking of the " merveilleuse " was scarcely 
visible beneath her dress "a la Flore" or "a la Diane." She 
also affected tunics " a la Ceres " and " a la Minerve," and coats 
" a la Galatee." 

A simple kerchief, or a small shawl of plain cashmere, was worn 
on the neck. ¥e\t hats, not unlike those worn by men, were 
occasionally trimmed with flame-coloured ribbons. But the more 
fashionable " merveilleuses " preferred a toque trimmed with 
ribbon in like manner, and very effectively ornamented with a 
couple of white aigrettes. 

"What confusion, and what fickleness !" observe the brothers De 
Goncourt. " Caps a la paysanne, a la Despaze, and Pierrot caps ! 
Caps a la folle, a la Minette, a la Delie, a la frivole, a I'EscIavonne, 
a la Nelson ! There a simple bit of muslin, and an unpretending 
gauze lappet ; here a turban turned up with five blue feathers ! 
A turban, made by La Despaux, ' that Michael Angelo of 
milliners,' w^ill be formed of a pink handkerchief; another will 
be of lilac crape, two rows of beads, and above them a rose and 
a heartsease ! And as for hats ! hats ' a la Primrose,' negligently 
covered with a half handkerchief; turban hats, round hats 'a 
I'Anglaise,' gleaner's hats, Spencer hats, and beaver hats, owe 
their names to Saulgeot ! Does Mme. Saint-Auhin take the part 


of Lisbeth ? Mdlle. Bertrand flings a large bunch of roses on 
straw, and it becomes a hat 'a la Lisbeth.' The assembly of 
the Norman electors is nicknamed 'the chess-board of Normandy,' 
and a ' chess-board hat ' immediately makes its appearance." 

We must also mention wigs "a I'Aspasie," "a la Venus," "a 
la Turque," Greek and Roman wigs, art head-dresses in the style of 
Sappho; " Doisy " nets, linked tiaras formed of the glittering 
links of a threefold chain of gold ; and " les cheveux baignes," 
that is, the real hair, worn with a diamond crescent. 

By way of ornament, dressmakers frequently made use of 
small pieces of gold, silver, copper, or steel, very thin, and with 
a hole in the middle ; they were generally of circular shape, were 
sewed on to the material, and called spangles. 

Thence the popular song : — 

" Paillette aux bonnets, 

Aux toquets, 
Aux petits corsets ! 

Aux fins bandeaux, 
Aux grands chapeaux ! 

Aux noirs colliers, 
Aux blancs souliers ! 

Paillette aux rubans, 

Aux turbans. 
On ne volt rien sans 

Paillette ! " ' 

' " Spangles on the caps, 

On the toques, 
On the little bodices ! 

On the soft hair-bands, 
On the large hats ! 

On the black necklaces, 
On the white shoes ! 

Spangles on the ribbons, 

On the turbans. 
Nothing is to be seen 

Without spangles ! " 


All the adjuncts of dress remind us of antique times; we may 
note the shape of shoes in particular — when, indeed, women were 
not satisfied with wearing gold rings on their feet. It is curious 
to remark how greatly shoes resembled sandals, only partially 
covering the upper part ot the foot. They consisted of a light 
sole, fastened to the leg by ribbons. Coppe was the principal 
" cothurnus " maker, and was said to lend to that class of 
foot-covering " inconceivable colouring, freshness, eloquence, and 
poetry ! " 

Dresses called " Athenian " were made of diaphanous material. 
They were open at the sides, from the waist to the lower edge of 
the tunic. Gowns made with trains were worn for walking. 

The celebrated Eulalie was particularly clever at drawing the 

long trains of gowns "a TOmphale " through the sash. If any 

one presumed to assert that from their feet to their heads women 

were too little clothed, they would reply, — 

" Le diamant seul doit parer 
Des attraits que blesse la laine." '" 

Their light attire exposed them to diseases of the chest, nay, 
to death itself, but they braved all dangers for the sake of l^'ashion. 
The gold rings shining on their feet could not protect them from 
the cold of winter, and yet they remained faithful to gauze-veiled 
nudity. A fashion of wearing no chemise lasted only one week. 

In consequence of the depreciation of the paper currency, sixty- 
four francs in assignats was charged for the making of two caps ; 
gauze for three caps cost lOO francs; two dozen cambric-muslin 
pocket-handkerchiefs cost 2400 francs ; a brown silk gown, 1 040 
francs; and a batiste gown edged with silk, 2500 francs. 

This was in 1795. A year later an embroidered tarlatan 
mantle cost 7000 francs; the making of a cap cost joo francs; a gown 
and a fan, 20,000 francs; and the silk for a mantle, 3000 francs. 

These extraordinary prices rose higher still as the value of the 
paper currency diminished. 

The best dressmakers were Nancy for Greek, and Mme. 

^ " The diamond only ought to adorn 
Charms which are hurt by wool." 


Raimbaut for Roman costumes. A Parisian lady required J65 
head-dresses, the same number of pairs of shoes, 600 gowns, and 
twelve chemises. 

Among the ephemeral fashions of the Directory one was to dress 
the hair " a la victime." This entailed the loss of the victim's 
tresses, which were cut ofF quite close to the head. Ladies who 
adopted the coiffure " a la Titus " were absolutely compelled to 
wear a red shawl and a red necklace, that the whole costume 
might be in harmony. 

Many ladies always dressed their hair " a la sacrifiee." They 
were also partial to wigs, blond at first, and afterwards black, 
though this " anti-revolutionary " st)'le met with great opposition 
both on the stage and in print. Twelve blond wigs were included 
in Mdlle. I.epelletier de St. Fargeau's wedding trousseau. Mme. 
Tallien possessed thirty ; each cost five and twenty louis. 

At a party at the Hotel Thelusson, great admiration was 

excited by a lady whose hair was dressed in the Greek style, a 

band of cameos representing Roman emperors encircled her head. 
Her gown was of crape, embroidered in steel. 

Between 1799 and 1801, the fashions, it must be conceded, 
were not particularly graceful. A caricature that has almost 
become an historical document, appeared under the Consulate. It 
represents a gentleman and lady both dressed in the extreme of 
fashion, in 1789, 1796, and 1801. 

Beneath the picture the author asks the question, " Which is 
the most ridiculous ? " 

But women cared little for what might be said of them ; they 
laughed at comments, epigrams, and caricatures alike. 

Not only did Mme. Tallien create a furore of admiration at 
the Frascati balls, in an Athenian gown, wearing two circlets of 
gold as garters, and with rings on her bare and sandalled feet, but 
there were other heroines of fashion, if I may so express myself, 
who dressed "a la sauvage," or threw over their shoulders a 
blood-red shawl (sang de bceuf), squeezed their waist into stays 
" a I'humanite," and wore on their heads either a hat " :i la justice" 
or a cap " a la folle." 


The following epigram was composed on the caps " a la 

folle :"— 

" De ces vilains bonnets, maman, quel est le prix ? 
— Dix francs. — Le nora ?— Des bonnets k la folle. 
Ah ! c'est bien singulier, interrompit Nicolle : 
Toutes nos dames en ont pris." ^ 

Fine ladies carried an embroidered bag or reticule, vulgarly 
called " ridicule." * 

In 1 803 a certain great lady wore a tunic of netted beads, with 
pearls in her hair, which was dressed diadem fashion. At the 
King of Etruria's fete, her hair was arranged like the quills of a 
porcupine ; a long gold chain and enormous locket hung round 
her neck. Another lady adopted a cap exactly like her grand- 
father's night-cap, a veil falling below her waist, and a tunic with 
which her puce silk spencer made a startling contrast. Others, 
again, adhered to the transparent costume, with shoes sandalled 
high up on the leg. 

It was difBcult to tell from the appearance of these ladies 

whether they vvere Greek, Turkish, or French women. The 

over-transparency of their attire gave rise to the following song, 

by Despreaux, in eight verses, of which I transcribe the first 

only : — 

" Grace k la mode 
On n'a plus d'cheveux {//is) ; 

Ah ! qu'c'est commode ! 
On n'a plus d'cheveux 
On dit qu'c'est mieux !"' 

^ " What is the price, mamma, of those ugly caps ? " 
" Ten francs." " The name ? " " Madwoman's caps." 
"Ah, that is strange," interrupted Nicolle, 
" For all our ladies wear them." 

* The author relates an anecdote here to which justice cannot be done in 
English, as the play upon words cannot be translated. The anecdote is as 
follows : " Une dame, ayant perdu son sac, voulut le faire afficher. ' Fi done ! ' 
lui dit un mauvais plaisant, 'faire afficher un ridicule, quand on en a tant ! ' " 

° " Thanks to the Fashion 
No one has any hair {/>is) ; 
O ! how convenient ! 
No more hair. 
They say it is better so ! " 


The fashions of the Directory, especially the transparent 
dresses, remained in favour during the early part of the Consulate. 
We may mention the following novelties: Jewish tunics in 
organdy muslin or silk, light or dark blue, buff or striped ; drawn 
bonnets in organdy, and straw bonnets with "chicoree " trimming. 

Long hair was a thing of the past ; every woman wore her 
hair " a la Titus," and covered the cropped skull with false hair, 
" cache-folies," or " tortillons." 



1S04 TO 1S14. 

Fashions under the Empire— Sacks— "Personnes cossues "—A saying of Napoleon's -White 
gowns— Valenciennes lace— Ball dresses ; walking dresses— Polish " toquets" and bon- 
nets—Turbans—Muslins—Artificial flowers— Wenzel's manufactory; "The Offspring of 
Imposture," Campenon's verses— Parisian ladies, as sketched by Horace Vernet— Stays 
—Cashmeres— Protest by Piis— Ternaux assists in establishing the manufacture of 
cashmere shawls in France— Cotton stuffs— Richard Lenoir; importance of the Rouen 
manufacture— Violets during the Hundred Days— The "eighteen folds," and white 

Under the Empire, which was proclaimed in 1804, the fashion of 
short waists continued in favour, and even developed into extra- 
ordinary results. The fair sex adopted " sack " dresses, with the 
waist close under the arms, and the bosom pushed up to the chin. 
This was far from graceful, and a woman needed to be perfectly 
beautiful to look well in such a costume. 

Gold, precious stones, and diamonds were lavishly used. 
Numerous balls were given, and official receptions held, and the 
dress of the women was handsome, nay, even magnificent. Un- 
fortunately, it was chiefly remarkable for its bad taste. A French- 
woman seemed to have attained the height of glory when it could 
be said of her : " Voila une personne cossue !" ' 

Napoleon wished his court to be splendid, and was accustomed 
to rebuke ladies who committed the sin of economy. 

" Madame la Marechale," said he one day to a lady, " your 
cloak is superb ; I have seen it a good many times." 

She took the hint. Extravagance prevailed in every class of 
society, we might almost say " By order." 

Towards the same period, Gerard's picture of Love and Pysche 
' " There's a warm, substantial person." 


brought pallor into fashion. Rouge was altogether abolished, 
white pearl-powder was universally used, and women tried to be 
interesting by making up their faces " a la Psyche." 

This departure from the ways of the eighteenth century did 
not prevent Frenchwomen from continuing to borrow some few 
fashions from foreign countries and other times, viz. Palatines 
from the north, Falbalas from the reign of Louis XV., and some 
minor accessories from Spain, Italy, Turkey, and England. 

For the most part women wore fronts instead of their own 
hair, and diamonds in place of flowers. They were above all 
anxious to show off their wealth. Many of them were parvenues 
who sought to do honour to their husbands' position. 

Yet the white gowns with spiral trimming of pink satin, and 
a wreath of brightly coloured flowers round the bottom of the 
skirt, must have been pretty. The bodice was fastened on the 
shoulders by many-coloured ribbons, and trimmed at the neck 
with Valenciennes lace of great cost. The bare arms were 
covered with long white gloves; round the throat was a necklace 
of real pearls, and on the hair, worn in curls, a wreath of roses. 

Such a dress as the above was for ball-room wear ; the skirt 
was short, revealing the ankle and foot in a white satin shoe. 

Walking costumes were much the same as to shape, with the 
exception of the skirt, which was very long. They were much 
heavier by reason of the kerchief round the neck, and the shawl 
covering the shoulders. Dresses were worn "a la Jean de Paris," 
an opera by Boieldieu ; the hair was dressed " a la Chinoisc," with 
gold pins, from which hung little gold balls. 

With the same style of hair, the "cap-bonnet," trimmed with 
feathers, was fastened under the chin with silk strings. There 
were toquets of embroidered tulle, and hats " a la Polonaise," of 
a somewhat ungraceful square shape ; turbans also in clear muslin 
spotted with gold, and turban-caps, both souvenirs of the 
Napoleonic victories in Egypt. How many fine ladies resembled 
Mamelukes ! 

Some women wore cloth, merino, or velvet coats; and almost 
all excessively short waists. Their gowns were indecently low. 


High gowns made without fulness were frequently trimmed with 
many rows of flounces or falbalas. 

From the beginning of the century, the manufacture of muslin, 
which is said to be so named from the town of Mossoul, had been 
greatly developed at Tarare and St. Quentin. 

In addition to this, the principal innovation of the period was 
tiie definitive introduction of artificial flowers, which, until then, 
had only been occasionally employed in feminine attire. 

The Italians had long possessed the art of producing artificial 
flowers, and had practised it with great success; but in France 
this branch of industry had only been introduced in the year 1738. 
A man named Seguin, a native of Mende, and a very clever 
chemist and botanist, succeeded in manufacturing artificial flowers 
quite equal to those of Italy. He also made them after the 
Chinese method, from the pith of the elder-tree ; and he was the 
first to invent a sort of flower made of silver-leaf, which has been 
much used to ornament feminine attire. 

Wenzel, a maker of artificial flowers in various materials, who 
received an award at the Industrial Exhibition in 1 802, sold very 
admirable specimens of his art, and greatly contributed to the 
success of artificial flowers when employed for the dress or hair. 
Flowers were worn mingled with braids of false hair. 

Philippe de la Renaudiere dubbed these " the ofFspring of im- 
posture." Campenon, in his " Maison des Champs," exclaimed, — 

" Oui, loin des champs, il est une autre Flore, 
Que I'art fait naitre et que Paris adore . . . 
Sur ces bouquets mdconnus des zephirs, 
Un pinceau sur adroitemont depose 
L'or du genet, le carmin de la rose, 
Ou de I'iris nuance les saphirs ; 
Puis on les voit dans nos foUes orgies, 
Au sein des bals, loin des feux du soleil, 
S'e'panouir aux rayons des bougies. 
L'art applaudit h. leur e'clat vermeil ; 
Mais sur ces fleurs, enfants d'une autre Flore, 
Je cherche en vain les p'.eurs d'une autre Aurore."' 

- " Yes, far from fields there is another Flora, 
Born of art, and adored by Paris . . . 


The art of flower-making has made some progress since 1738 
and 1802, and it may be said that artificial flowers are indis- 
pensable to an elegant costume. 

The Empire was the period of " toquets " in embroidered 

Horace Vernet, the great painter, although very young in 18 13, 
has portrayed " Les Dames de Paris " in the reign of the first 
Napoleon. Nothing seems to us more hideous than their hats and 
feathers, their sleeves tight to the wrist, and the embroidery on 
their gowns. 

Mme. de Stael's " Corinne " turned the heads of the fair sex in 
1807 and 1808. They assumed an inspired expression, fancied 
themselves on Italian shores, played on the harp, and wore scarfs 
that floated with every breeze. 

The fashions of the Empire have been much, yet on one 
important point, perhaps, not sufficiently criticized. We allude 
to the use of stays, which came in with the winter of 1809, and 
have held their place ever since, in spite of all the sarcasm that 
has been lavished on those mechanical aids to dress. By way of 
compensation, the Empire gave us Cashmere shawls, first brought 
into France at the time of our Egyptian expedition (1798 — 1802). 
Previously to that, Tippoo-Saib had included shawls among the 
gifts he had sent to Louis XVI.; but they were not generally 
worn until later. Piis wrote the following lines on the subject: — 

" D'ailleurs, ces schalls si solides, 
Que vous portez a I'envi, 
A des Arabes perfides 
De ceinturcs ont servi. 

Upon nosegays of which zephyrs know nothing, 

A skilful brush lays cunningly 

The gold of the gorse, the carmine of the rose, 

Or the sapphire tints of the iris; 

And then we see them, amid our orgies, 

In the ball-room, far from the sun-rays, 

Bloom in the glare of the wax lights. 

Art applauding their brilliancy ; 

But on those flowers, children of another Flora, 

In vain I seek the tears of another Aurora." 


Ah ! de ces tissus profanes 
Comme h mon tour je rirai, 
Si le goiit des caravanes 
Par eux vous est inspire." ^ 

Cashmere shawls are so called from the capital of a province in 
Asia, within the territories of the Great Mogul. About 100 000 
shawls were made yearly in Kashmir. 

Guillaume Louis Ternaux was the first to imitate the famous 
Indian shawls, and then conceived the idea of naturalizing in 
France the Thibet goats, whose hair had hitherto been exclusively 
employed in their manufacture. For this purpose, and at great 
cost, he despatched M. Joubert, of the National Library, who was 
well acquainted with the Oriental tongues, to Thibet. M. Joubert 
gathered together a flock of 1 500 goats, only 256 of which reached 
France, and were distributed over the southern provinces. Thanks 
to Ternaux, Cashmere shawls have become one of the most 
splendid adornments of feminine dress. On their first appearance 
they delighted both Paris and the provinces. Their marvellous 
texture, consisting principally of the soft hair of acclimatized 
Thibet goats, elicited universal admiration. 

At first no French manufacturer ventured to imitate so delicate 
a tissue, such extraordinary lightness, such curious patterns ; but 
after a time an attempt was made to reproduce Thibet cashmeres 
by means of cotton, silk, and wool, which, however, were found 
to be wanting in softness. At a later period the hair of Kirghis 
goats from Russia was successfully employed, and thus a sufficient 
softness was obtained for the " French cashmeres." 

The sway of cashmeres has its vicissitudes and lapses. For 
awhile they vanish from the scene, and then, after an interval, they 
regain their well-deserved place in the public esteem. When an 

^ " Besides, those heavy shawls 
Which you dehght in wearing, 
Have previously served for girdles 
To perfidious Arabs. 
Ah ! at those profane fabrics 
I should laugh in my turn. 
If in theirs they inspired you 
With the taste of the caravans." 
o 2 


occasion arises on which very grand and imposing attire is required 
a woman of fashion buys one of those splendid products of the 

At solemn family gatherings, a cashmere is indispensable ; it 
proclaims the wealth of the wearer. 

The cotton manufactures of France were of little importance 
until 1787, in which year the Government set up spinning 
machinery at Rouen ; but the manufacture began to flourish only 
under the First Empire, when the energy of Richard Lenoir con- 
tributed greatly to its success. From the time that machinery 
was substituted for the old spinning-wheel, an amount of labour 
which formerly employed a thousand spinners could be accom- 
plished by a mere child. 

For more than sixty years the coloured cottons manufactured 
at Rouen, and called in consequence " Rouenneries," have served 
to clothe the majority of Frenchwomen. 

During the Hundred Days, succeeding the return of Napoleon 
from Elba, violets became the fashion. They were regarded as a 
political emblem. From May 20, 1815, no Imperialist lady 
appeared in public without a large bunch of violets on her breast. 
Some morning caps were trimmed with violets and immortelles 
side by side, and several jewellers manufactured ornaments of the 
same design. On the other hand, the Royalist ladies wore jaconet 
gowns with eighteen tucks in the skirt, in honour of Louis 
XVIII., and bonnets of white silk striped with plaited straw, a 
small square cashmere shawl with a vermilion border, and dark 
blue prunella boots. 








V ^ 



1S15 TO 1830. 

Importation of foreign fashions in 1S15 — White dresses, white feathers, and fleurs de lys — ■ 
Emigrant ladies — Russian toques — Male and female dressmakers — Ruchings — Short 
sleeves and long gloves— Herbault's bonnets — "Chefs" — Anglomania in 1815 — Green 
gauze veils; spencers — The " canezou"— Lacroix, the stay-maker — Dr. Pelletan and 
Charles X. — Wasjis — The " Ourika " fashions — The famous leg-of-mutton sleeves 
— Fashions "a I'lpsiboe," "au Trocadero," and "5.1a Dame Blanche" — Blonde caps 
and turbans — Head-dresses — Fashions " k la giraffe ; " " the last sigh of Jocko " — 
Female book-keepers ; shopwomen — The Cafe des Mille-Colonnes. 

The lamentable presence of the allied armies in our capital induced 
us to adopt some fashions from abroad. Our countrywomen 
copied certain details of dress from the Germans, the Poles, the 
Russians, and the English. They professed to " find good in 
everythinor," quite forgetting the claims of patriotism. 

The noble ladies who returned from emigration in 1 8 1 5 could 
not reconcile themselves to the fashions of new France, and the 
shape of gowns and hats became almost an affiiir of state. The 
Legitimists, when once they had recrossed the frontier, endeavoured 
to repudiate whatever could remind them, nearly or remotely, of 
the Republic and the Empire. 

The fashions of 1 8 1 5 were, generally speaking, influenced by 
the changes effected by the Restoration in France. The white flag 
floated from the dome of the Tuileries, and there was a passion for 
white gowns ; while feathers of the same hue waved on the heads of 
women, in honour, no doubt, of the heroic white plumes that Henri 
IV. " bore along the path of honour." More than one great lady 
at the court of Louis XVIII. trimmed the edge of her skirt with a 
wreath of lilies, while she altered but little the shape of her gown. 


which remained as short waisted as under Napoleon I. In the early 
part of January, 18 16, a wealthy foreigner appeared at the opera 
wearing a Russian toque. She created quite a sensation ; and the 
next day a first-rate milliner of the Rue Vivienne had reproduced 
the head-dress, which soon afterwards was universally worn. 

There was a general craving for splendid dress. Enthusiastic 
Royalists gathered round Louis XVIII. and the Comte d'Artois, 
and thronged the apartments of the Tuileries. Nothing was 
thought of in the Faubourg St. Germain but balls, concerts, and 
entertainments. A great revival took place in trade, and served 
as the general excuse for extravagance. 

In a very short time Paris possessed four renowned ladies' tailors, 
thirteen milliners in large practice, seven noted florists, three 
favourite stay-makers, eight famous dressmakers, and eight excellent 
ladies' shoemakers. 

White gowns, trimmed at the bottom with flowers, were 
generally worn both at official and private balls. Flowers, roses for 
the most part, were worn in the hair. Plaid dresses were in fashion, 
dresses " ;i I'indolente,'' and dresses trimmed with chinchilla. 

Dresses were made in various styles. Sometimes sleeves were 
short and pufl^ed, and trimmed with several rows of ruching ; and 
sometimes they were funnel-shaped, that is, there was a certain 
amount of fulness at the shoulder which gradually diminished as 
they reached the wrist, where they were hermetically closed by a 
ribbon over a coloured kid glove. 

Dresses were cut "low," and necklaces of pearls or garnets were 
worn. When the sleeves were short, long gloves concealed the 
arm, and the effect was very pretty. Embroidered " toques " 
were also in f^ishion, ornamented with pearls and a wreath of 
marabout feathers. 

Long gloves were expensive ; but no well-dressed woman 
hesitated to put on a new pair every day, a soiled glove not 
being admissible. Tan was a favourite colour. 

Valuable jewels, wide bright-coloured sashes, delicate fans, and 
embroidered or braided reticules completed the attire, and gave it 
character as well as intrinsic worth. Married women wore little 


half-handkerchiefs tied round the throat, and young girls wore 
apron-dresses (tablier-robes) entirely in white. 

The hair was arranged in little curls close round the forehead 
and temples, and in small rolls at the back of the head. Artificial 
flowers were used, but sparingly. 

Bonnets were made without curtains, and were worn rather 
tilted forward over the face, so as to display the chignon and neck; 
they were trimmed with artificial flowers. Large chip hats and 
white feathers were purchased at Herbault's, who also sold small 
white satin ones, the brims of which were cut into points or 
squares, and surmounted with marabouts. Other milliners manu- 
factured "cornettes" in black velvet, edged with white tulle j 
they even placed black hats on white " cornettes." 

Many dresses were made of fine white merino, with wide stripes 
of dead silver, called " chefs." White merino boots, laced at the 
side, completed the costume. 

During the first few years of the Restoration our fair country- 
women indulged in various successive caprices. The " Journal 
des Modes" from 1814 to 1815 holds up the most extraordinary 
fashions to our admiration. Women, moreover, were seized with 
Anglomania. A caricature of the time represents " Mme. 
Grognard " trying to force her daughter to dress herself " a 

The young girl replies, — 

" Gracious ! how frightful ! What dreadful taste ! To think of 
wearing English fashions!" 

But, criticism notwithstanding, ladies adopted the English 
custom of straw bonnets and green gauze veils. They wore 
spencers, a garment resembling a jacket with the skirts cut ofl^ a 
little below the waist. These were generally made of velvet, reps, 
or satin, and in every colour. They wrapped themselves in green 
kerseymere cloaks with double collars, in merino coats, and in silk 
" douillettes," or wadded gowns. 

But imperceptibly, and because good taste never altogether 
cedes its rights, puffings and heavy trimmings were discarded, and 
the " canezou," a sort of sleeveless bodice, superseded the spencer. 


Muslin canezous were becoming to most women, setting off the 
figure of both young and old. 

Unfortunately Frenchwomen soon returned to the ungraceful 
leg-of-mutton sleeves, and sleeves "a beret," " a la folk," "a 
I'imbecile," and " a I'elephant." Every day brought forth some 
new thing, of more or less wonderful shape. 

Cambric chemises were beautifully embroidered and trimmed 
with narrow Valenciennes round the neck and sleeves. An 
embroidered jaconet gown cost as much as 900 francs. And this 
did not discourage, but, indeed, promoted prodigality in the 
purchase of stockings and pocket-handkerchiefs. 

For full-dress mourning, black " toques " were worn, em- 
broidered in bronzed steel with a plume of black feathers, and 
black gowns were similarly embroidered. 

Stays were costly, and remained in fashion. Those of Lacroix, 
a very good maker, cost one hundred francs ; they were made in 
two pieces, and a small cushion covered with white silk was 
fastened on behind to give elegance to the shape.* 

Jean Jacques Rousseau was laughed at for writing, that " The 
limbs should be free beneath the garments covering them ; nothing 
should interfere with their action, nothing should fit too closely to 
the body; there should be no ligatures." Far from following his 
advice, women generally wore steel busks in their stays. And 
yet the celebrated Dr. Pelletan, after making many experiments in 
the interests of hygiene and dress, had proved that the use of 
busks was highly dangerous. They attracted electricity to the 
chest, and might occasion internal irritation in that region. 

Charles X. placed himself among the opponents of stays. 
" Formerly," said he, " it was not uncommon to see Dianas, 
Venuses, or Niobes in France ; but now we see nothing but 

In 1824, the Duchesse de Duras brought out her romance, 

" Ourika," which was already known and admired at court, at the 

Royal Printing House, as if it were a scientific work. It was 

received with rapture by the general public, and was spoken of 

' The familiar " bustle," of course. 


as the " Atala of the Salons." There were " Ourika " bonnets, 
caps, and gowns, Ourika shawls, and a colour called Ourika. 

This sort of passing enthusiasm recurred very frequently ; and 
no sooner had a book or a circumstance obtained the notice of the 
public, than it received consecration, as it were, from the fashion- 
able world. From 1822 to 1830 the following colours were in 
fashion : " Ipsiboe," " Trocadero," " bronze," " smoke," " Nile- 
water," "solitary," "reed," "mignonette-seed," " amorous toad," 
"frightened mouse," "spider meditating crime," &c. 

The eighteenth century seemed to have come back, in the 
matter of designations at any rate. 

A paroxysm of splendid extravagance was occasioned by the 
coronation of Charles X. 

Hair-dressers travelled post to Rheims for the ceremony, and 
were besieged by their fair clients. During the night preceding 
the coronation, one of them dressed the hair of more than five and 
twenty ladies, at a charge of forty francs apiece. 

We must not content ourselves with a mere mention of les-of- 
mutton sleeves, they deserve a longer notice, by reason of their 
own long and absolute reign. 

Leg-of-mutton sleeves first appeared in 1820, and attained by 
degrees to such enormous size, that a woman of fashion could not 
pass through a door of ordinary dimensions. They were kept in 
shape by whalebones, or by a sort of balloon stuffed with down. 

Such a sleeve exactly resembled the joint of meat from which it 
took its name. An extraordinary fashion, indeed ! It is hard to 
understand the " good taste " that presided at its invention. 

And yet the whole dress of woman soon became centred, as it 
were, in the leg-of-mutton sleeve. There could be nothing to 
harmonize in the rest of a costume, with sleeves that preponderated 
as much as the paniers of old, and the steel crinolines of twenty- 
five years ago. VVe can but laugh when we examine some 
portraits of the period. 

There were some slight changes in the fashions in the reign 
of Charles X., from 1824 to 1830, attributable generally to 
incidents of the day, or to popular plays or novels. Colours, 


crape, head-dresses, and turbans were named after " Ipsiboe," a 
romance of passion by the Vicomte d'Arlincourt ; there were 
Trocadero ribbons, in honour of the Due d'Angouleme's campaign 
in Spain; " Elodie " blue, and Scotch phiids "a la Dame Blanche," 
after Boieldieu's fine opera ; and extraordinary whimsicalities, " a 
la wonderful lamp," "a I'Emma," "a la Marie Stuart," and "a la 
Clochette." Bonnets with large hollow brims, feathers and 
ribbons, Sultana turbans, " berets," and caps of Chantilly blond, 
were still worn. 

Numbers of fashionable women wore a " sentiment " round 
their throats, or a " carcan necklace" of velvet, or bows either of 
fur or curled feathers. Gowns barely reached to the ankles ; they 
were trimmed with gauze, blond, bows of ribbon, bands of velvet, 
twists of satin ; feather-fringe and ornaments were sewn on to 
the material. 

The short skirts of 1828 caused the boots we had copied from the 
English to be appreciated; they were both comfortable and sightly. 

Velvet " toques " were in favour; likewise velvet " witchouras," 
chinchilla muffs, bodices draped "a la Sevigne ;" satin bonnets 
trimmed with marabouts, satin pelisses lined with swans'-down ; 
satin gowns covered with crape, trimmed with puffings of the 
same, roses and pearl wheat-ears, invented by Mme. Hippolyte ; 
merino gowns trimmed with satin, Moabitish turbans in crape lisse 
with gold stripes and a plume of feathers, and, lastly, scarfs in 

The hair was arranged in plaits, or high, stiff curls, on the top of 
the head, mixed with ribbons and flowers, or with curled feathers 
" invented by M. Plaisir," or a steel comb. 

To these we may add sashes of China crape and gauze, belts 
of hair, morocco leather baskets, diamond waist-buckles, morocco 
bags shaped like pocket-books or shells, stamped leather bags, 
lace mantillas, plaid and damask satin parasols, and terry velvet 
over-shoes lined with fur. 

In 1827, France possessed for the first time a living giraffe. 
The animal had been sent to Charles X. by the Pacha of Egypt, 
and was placed in the Jardin des Plantes. 


The girafFe became extraordinarily popular. Never before 
had the Jardin des Plantes attracted so many visitors ; crowds of 
sight-seers rushed to see it eat or walk about, and for several 
months it engrossed the whole attention of the public. Dramatic 
authors constantly alluded to the girafFe in their pieces, and the 
street organs continually repeated the tunes that had been com- 
posed in its honour. 

Then Fashion took it up, and created gowns " a la giraffe," 
sashes " a la giraff"e," bonnets " a la giraffe," &c. ; and dress was so 
contrived as to immortalize the gift of the Pacha of Egypt. 

On the arrival of a chimpanzee in Paris the same results occurred ; 
and when poor Jocko had expired, the ladies honoured his memory 
by wearing materials named " Jocko's last sigh." 

Our task would be a long and tedious one were we to attempt 
to describe the costume of the lemonade-seller during the Re- 
storation, that of the jeweller's or goldsmith's assistant, of the 
"lingere," the florist, the confectioner, &c., in a word, of all the 
" bourgeoises " whose station was behind a counter or at the book- 
keeper's desk. 

Each of these adopted a costume appropriate to her business. 
The wonderful costume of the lemonade-seller of the Palais Royal 
excited the admiring envy of the ladies of the court, and as for the 
" cafetiere " of the " Mille-Colonnes," a fashionable hair-dresser 
expended all his art in her service, just as if he had been devoting 
his "genius" to the head of an illustrious princess. 

The Duchesse de Berry would fa.\n have been a leader of fashion 
during the Restoration, but she never succeeded in the attempt. 

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1830 TO 1S4S. 

The Revolution of July, 1S30— Fashions in Louis Philippe's reign— Microscopical bonnets, 
called " bibis," "cabriolets" — A'^ariety of caps— Fashions of the Middle Ages and of 
the Renaissance— The stage — Historic costumes — Influence of Rachel, the actress — 
Greek and Roman fashions — Colours — Various designations of materials — Bedouin 
sleeves — Bonnets and head-dresses — Pamela bonnets — Novel eccentricities — Taglioni 
gowns, gathered " 4 la Vierge," laced " k la Niobe," &c. — The " Sylvestrine " — Cos- 
tumes to be worn on occasions of attempts on the king's life— Bouquets for balls. 

The Revolution of July 1830 did not produce nearly so much 
effect on dress as that of 1789. 

In the reign of Louis Philippe, as in that of Charles X., 
feminine costume changed but little. Fanciful adjuncts of dress 
succeeded one another without interruption, but the basis of dress 
in general remained the same. Microscopical " bibis '' took the 
place of the enormous bonnets that under the name of " cabriolets " 
had been the delight of Parisian ladies in 1835; and dress-caps 
were manufactured in a variety of shapes, and under a variety of 
names, viz. the Charlotte Corday, the peasant, the nun, the 
Elizabeth, the chatelaine, the Marie Antoinette, the polka, &c. 
But the only striking novelties were the nets " a la Napolitaine," 
the "steeple-chase " rosettes placed below the ears, the Armenian 
toques " a pentes '' (or sloping), the Catalan half-caps, the fringed 
Algerian head-dresses, and the white and gold Jewish turbans 
with strings "a la Rachel." These turbans were taken from 
Mdlle. Falcon's stage dress in Halevy's opera of " La Juive." 

The greatest novelty consisted in the colours chosen for dress. 
The " Snow " head-dress was named after Auber's work ; gowns 
"a la Dame Blanche," after that of Boieldieu ; and caps "a la 


Fiancee," also after Auber. To these succeeded various colours, 
called "Solitaire," from Carafa, or the " Petites Dana'ides," and 
" Robin des Bois." Dark and sober tints were worn in preference 
to brighter hues, for no other reason than the romantic ideas of a 
period in which both men and women delighted in appearing 
melancholy, Byronic, and sickly. 

The effect of the Romantic School on Fashion may be easily 
imagined. The early works of Victor Hugo and Lamartine had 
kindled the popular imagination, while Scott's novels and Byron's 
poems had everywhere fostered ideal sentiments. 

Reveries, suffering, sacrifice, and boundless self-devotion were 
the themes of the day, and fair ladies voluntarily shed tears, 
because to weep was fashionable. 

I, the writer of these lines, have known many young girls quite 
distressed by their healthy appearance, their rosy cheeks, and fresh 
complexions. "It looked so common," they said. As if the 
brilliant colouring of nature were not the incomparable source of 
all beauty. More than one young girl who longed to look 
consumptive, ended by becoming so in reality, by dint of depriving 
herself of proper nourishment, which she feared might make her 
grow stout and " material." 

The return to the Middle Ages was likewise manifested by 
numerous costumes taken from the periods of which we treated at 
the beginning of this history. 

Who is that lady? Is she the Chatelaine of Coucy.^ She 
wears a long train, an enormous pearl necklace, and hanging 
sleeves like those of Marguerite of Burgundy ; the alms-bag 
suspended from her waist, and her carved jewellery, make her 
resemble a woman of the fourteenth century. Not so, however. 
She is the wife of a rich shopkeeper, and has been present at the 
performances of plays by Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. 

Does not that other fair lady belong to the court of Charles 
VI. ? No ; you make a mistake. She has only insisted on her 
milliner dressing her like Mdlle. Georges in her stage dress of 
Isabeau de Baviere, the principal character in the play of " Perrinet 


Not only the public resorts of Longchamps and the Tuilleries, 
but the French and Italian Opera Houses, the Opera Comique, the 
Theatre-Fran^ais, and the large theatres of the Boulevards exer- 
cise the greatest influence at the present day over the caprices 
of Fashion. An extraordinary discrepancy exists between the 
character of women and the garments they choose to wear. A 
sweet and gentle girl has her hair dressed like that of the infanticide 
Norma, and the best of mothers seeks to imitate the costume of 
that arch-poisoner, the Marquise de Brinvilliers. 

Masked and fancy-dress balls were crowded with historical 
characters, from Fredegonde to Mary Stuart, and from Catherine 
de Medicis to Charlotte Corday. The Greek and Roman styles 
were replaced by those of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. 

We find the following paragraph in a Review of 1834: 
" Fashions, like Empires, have their Revolutions, which in 
former times were slow and gradual ; but at the present day they 
follow the spirit of the age, and share in its instability. Each 
century was formerly stamped in the same image, and the dress of 
our forefathers might have served, in a certain sense, to mark the 
dates of our history. But at the present day. Fashion, greedily 
seeking after novelty, appeals to every era and every period, 
borrowing from each, and only takes possession of one costume in 
order to throw it aside for another, in a few months, or weeks, or 
even days." 

Meanwhile the great actress, Rachel, revived the ancient 
tragedies. She played successively Emilia, Hermione, Eriphyla, 
Monima, Electra, Roxana, Paulina, Agripplna, and Ph^dra, and 
by her genius gave new life to masterpieces that had been almost 
forgotten, if not despised, since Talma ceased to interpret them. 

Thereupon the ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain and those 
of the Chaussee d'Antin became fired with enthusiasm ; not only 
did they invite Rachel to their salons, where she recited the im- 
precation of Camilla or the dream of Athalia, but they copied the 
dress of the illustrious tragedian. If Rachel wore a bracelet of 
artistic design, other ladies immediately tried to procure similar orna- 
ments ; or if on another occasion she displayed a set of magnificent 


cameos, they too must possess cameos of the same kind. They 
copied the great actress in the minutest detail of her costume, and 
even in her most characteristic head-dress. 

The Romantic School was succeeded by that of " good sense," 
according to the admirers of Ponsard ; and Emile Augier's 
" Cigue " produced a temporary revival of the taste for Greek and 
Roman fashions. 

But the reaction against the Middle Ages did not reach the 
" bourgeois " classes, who, when their "romanticist" costumes were 
worn out, replaced them with others of a less striking style, and 
better adapted to modern life. 

With regard to the colours most generally worn during the 
reign of Louis Philippe, we may mention Russian green, wine-lees, 
Marengo black, and pure Ethiopian, as succeeding to the delight- 
ful hues of lilac, pigeon-breast, and " early dawn." 

And by how many extraordinary designations were the new 
materials known! How charming was that oi pou de sole, or pou 
de la reine ! ' 

Never had there been such a variety of nomenclature ! The 
most wonderful appellations were bestowed either by the manu- 
facturers or the vendors of the new materials, and the public 
seriously accepted and made use of the pretentious newly-invented 
words, at which sensible people could but smile. 

To " diamantines " were added " constellees," and to " Venus's 
hair" succeeded "butterflies' wings." How poetical! what 
romantic garments ! 

We are omitting to mention the tricolour materials, that made 
a momentary appearance from time to time, when patriotism 
happened to be awakened by some victory over the tribes of 

Besides poetical names, there were others less agreeable, but 
accepted universally nevertheless. It sounded odd to compliment 
a lady on her Bedouin sleeves, or her busked or looscly-laced 
bodice ! 

Head coverings underwent singular changes. The " bibi " was 

' Silk louse. Queen's louse. 


suddenly transformed into the " cabas," with a deep crown con- 
cealing the neck ; and the next season brought in Pamela bonnets, 
with rounded brims, that very prettily revealed the outlines of 
the cheeks. The hair was, generally speaking, arranged in curls 
on each side, and in large rolls held by a comb at the back of 
the head. 

Almost all family portraits of that date represent the hair 
arranged thus, and adorned either with feathers or more frequently 
with artificial flowers, such as are still worn. Great perfection 
had been attained in the manufacture of roses, geraniums, nympheas, 
chrysanthemums, camelias, and many other lovely flowers, to 
enliven the attire of women. 

The most fashionable style of dress in 1 830 was as follows : — 
Gowns either high or low, with or without capes ; long sleeves 
with wristbands, or short sleeves and long gloves ; bodice with or 
without a waistband, and generally worn with an embroidered 
collar ; scarf and parasol of some dark tint ; black prunella or 
Turkish satin shoes ; no trimmings to the gown, but red or 
flame-coloured ribbon bows scattered here and there; and neck- 
laces composed of two rows of pearls. 

But we must not imagine that this was all, and that capriciousness 
and the love of change can ever abdicate their throne. The " leg- 
of-mutton," the "beret," the "imbecile," and the "elephant" 
sleeves were succeeded by others not quite so eccentric, but still, 
for the most part, sufficiently extraordinary. 

Such were the " Venetian," the "Louis XIII.," the "nun's," the 
"Turkish," the "Bedouin," the "Persian," the "gardener's," the 
"Sevigne," the " Dubarry " sleeves, &c. I omit some of the 
strangest. Henry the Second's narrow-brimmed hats with curled 
feathers came again into fashion, and the ladies adopted enthu- 
siastically collars and "guimpes" a la Medicis, and mantles " a 
la vieille "- or " a la paysanne."^ 

It would be an endless task to enumerate the slight but very 
various developments of fashion. Yet I must mention the 
" Taglioni gowns," consisting of four skirts; nor can I omit 
■ Old woman. ' Peasant woman. 



speaking of " berthes " of blond, " Celimenes," Pompadour 
bodices, Niobe lacings, plaitings " a la Vierge," Grecian and 
pointed bodices, &c. 

Numberless new materials were .produced ; among them were 
"droguet Catalan," "lampas burgrave," " Polar star," "blossoming 
chameleon," " casimirienne," " palmyrienne " — a blue ground 
brocaded with gold, " Benvenuto Cellini " blue velvet, " Medici" 
and "Louis XV." satins, "tulle illusion," "Rachel" crape, 
"cameline" silk, a tissue called " fil de la Vierge," "polka" 
gauze, and, lastly, "Duchess" and " Fleur de Marie" pocket- 

In 1839 a manufacturer invented " sylvestrine," a material 
composed of the thinnest possible layers of wood ; these formed 
the surface of a light and flexible sheet of pasteboard. Another 
invented a material of spun glass. 

Great ladies delighted in lace. The wedding gown of the 
Princess Helene, Duchesse d'Orleans, was of Alen^on point, and 
cost thirty thousand francs. 

How many different names have since then appeared in the 
Calendar of Fashion ! Each recurring season has witnessed the birth 
and death of something new in head-dresses or dress materials, or 
some fanciful caprice or new shape in garments. 

The beautiful Mmc. de Sampajo, the attached friend of Louis 
Philippe and his family, was enumerating, on one occasion, all the 
costumes she provided herself with at the beginning of each year. 

" I was forgetting," she said, " to mention my dress for the 
days on which the king or his family are fired at. ..." 

It is a fact that regicides abounded under the Monarchy of 
July ; and as often as Louis Philippe escaped unhurt from some 
attempt on his life, ladies would hastily dress themselves in some 
simply shaped, dark-coloured costume, and present themselves at 
the Tuileries, to offer him their congratulations. 

Such costumes were always kept in readiness in a wardrobe, and 
were known as " costumes for days on which the king's life is 

In the annals of fashion, the reign of Louis Philippe is re- 


markable only for " romantic costume " at firs::, and afterwards 
for the " classical costume " inspired by Rachel. It must not be 
inferred, however, that the reign of Fancy had ceased to exist. 
Many trifles, light and fragile as roses, exist like roses, for one 
day only. And every woman is the willing slave of Fashion, 
however extraordinary it may be, so that by dressing like others, 
she may avoid the appearance of singularity. 

A sort of rivalry existed in 1834, concerning bouquets for 
balls. Five or six camelias, mixed with green leaves, were placed 
in the centre of a pyramidal nosegay consisting of violets, ferns, 
and small hot-house flowers. These bouquets were placed in a 
gilt or jewelled holder, to which was attached a ring and chain ; 
the bouquet, therefore, might be allowed to fall, and would yet 
remain suspended to the finger. 

P 2 


*^nB. LENex AXn 
T.l.l.i..\ I IJiNaiTio.V.s- 



184S TO 1S5I. 

Tricoloured stuffs of 1848 — Girondin mantles — Open gowns— Summer dresses — Kasawecks 
and their derivatives — Beaver bonnets ; velvet bonnets, and satin or crape drawn 
bonnets — Cloches, Cornelia, Moldavian, and Josephine cloaks ; mantles — Isly green — 
Opera cloaks — Numerous styles of dressing the hair : a la Marie Stuart, a la Valois, Leda, 
Proserpine, and Ceres — Marquise parasols — Jewellery— Straw bonnets — "Orleans 
and "armure"— Work reticule or bag — "Chinas" — Pagoda sleeves — Waistcoats; 
basque bodices — New and economical canezous. 

The Revolution of 1848 lasted too short a time to effect a change 
in dress. There is little to remark in that transient period, beyond 
the adoption of tricoloured materials in remembrance of 1830. 
Tricoloured ribbons were worn on caps, and on a few bonnets. 
For some months Girondin cloaks, with three rows of shaded lace, 
were in fashion ; the cloaks were of muslin, and trimmed with 
frills worked in button-hole stitch. Bronze was the favourite 
colour for mantles. 

The year 1 848 was like its forerunner. The same materials, 
the same bodices, and the same sleeves continued to be worn. 
Small mantles called " grandmother," and others, shawl-shaped, 
with little sleeves and three flounces, and others again, rounded 
behind, and trimmed with fringe or deep lace, were fashionable. 

Gowns were made open in front, with low square-cut Raphael 
bodices, the front and back gathered ; and Marie Stuart head- 
dresses were worn. As the light material of summer costumes 
was found trying to delicate persons, kasawecks or casaques, 
imported from Russia, were worn over them in the evening. 

The kasaweck was a sort of jacket coming below the waist, 
with a tight-fitting back, and wide, braided sleeves. The fronts 


were made loose, or to fit tight, according to taste. The Russian 
kasawecks were lined with fur, but ours were simply wadded. 
They were sometimes made of velvet and satin, but more 
frequently of cashmere or merino, and were occasionally worn 
under a shawl or mantle. They were known under several 
names, viz. " coin-du-feu," "casaque," "pardessus," &c. ; and 
there was quite a series of kasawecks, i. e. home kasawecks, 
garden kasawecks, girls' kasawecks, grandmamma's kasawecks, &c. 
Women of fashion, however, never wore them out of their own 
house in the daytime. 

For several years wide-brimmed beaver bonnets were generally 
worn. They were given up because they were very expensive, 
unsuitable for full dress, and soon lost their colour. Velvet 
bonnets succeeded them, trimmed with black lace or feathers, and 
drawn bonnets of satin or silk, or crape bonnets, on which were 
velvet heartsease, auriculas, or primroses. 

Gowns, which remained about the same in shape, were cut more 
or less low, according as they were intended for morning or evening 
wear. Some were shorter than others ; but fashion no longer 
allowed the ankle to be displayed as in 1829. 

As regards material, the favourite woollens were cashmere, 
flannel, Glasgow cloth, and Amazon sateen ; and in silks, plain or 
glace, ''satin a la reine," "pekin," " gros d'Afrique," &c. 

An enumeration of all the cloaks, mantles, and pardessus 
would be tedious. But I must not omit to mention the bell- 
shaped, or Greek cloak, also called the "Cornelia," because its 
fulness and simplicity somewhat resembled the formof the Roman 
cloak. It had no sleeves and no seam on the shoulder, and 
could be gathered up over the arms like a shawl, at the pleasure 
of the wearer. 

Another cloak, called the Moldavian, fell below the knee, the 
sleeves hung down wide at the back, and formed a square cape in 
front. We may also mention the double-cape beige cashmere 
mantle, edged with braid ; the Josephine mantle, with one cape, 
and without shoulder-seam ; and the shawl-mantle, the elegance of 
which depended chiefly on the trimming. 


Black lace mantles were embellished by little ruchings of narrow- 
lace, or by " frisettes," a sort of braid which formed a frill on each 
side of a silk thread running through its entire length. 

Among the favourite colours of the period was Isly green, so 
named in honour of the great victory obtained by Marshal 
Bugeaud, in 1844, over the armies of the Emperor of Morocco. 
Women wore a great deal of Algerian finery, or at any rate, their 
dressmakers got ideas from the events taking place in the colony, 
and made use of them in their work. 

"Sorties de bal," or opera cloaks, were much worn at the same 
period. There was no dearth of dancing parties in the winter of 
1849-50, and the number of entertainments in Paris astonishes 
the historian who remembers the political events of that same year. 

The Marie Stuart and the Valois head-dresses were both in 
fashion ; the latter being adopted by young and pretty women 
who wished to be conspicuous. The hair when dressed in this 
style was drawn back from the brow, and rolled over a pad right 
round the forehead. The " Druid " head-dress was composed of 
oak leaves ; the " Nereid," of all the flowers beloved by Naiads ; 
the " Leda " consisted of little feathers of Barbary birds; the 
" Proserpine " of wild flowers, for this was Proserpine's mode 
before she was abducted by Pluto. Lastly, the "Ceres," consisting 
of the attributes of the genial goddess. 

Long chains of large beads without clasps were worn round the 
neck, and reached to the waist ; bracelets were of marcasite, enamel, 
diamonds, and cameos ; velvet bands an inch or two in width 
were fastened closely round the throat. 

On the first appearance of sunshine, ladies provided themselves, 
when about to take a walk or pay a visit, with small parasols, 
white, pink, or green. These were called " marquises," and were 
trimmed with broad lace. 

Parasols were sometimes fashioned like small umbrellas, and 
were useful in case of a sudden shower. Soon afterwards they 
were bordered with a wreath of embroidered flowers, or with a 
satin stripe either of the same colour as the parasol, or blue or green 
on ecru, or violet on white or buff. 


Bouquets of jewellery for the breast were worn by only a few, 
on account of their cost. One was exhibited at the Industrial 
Exhibition of 1849, which, although of only ordinary size, and 
containing neither diamonds, nor other precious stones, was 
valued at seven thousand francs. We must add that this orna- 
ment could be altered at pleasure so as to form a tiara, a bracelet, 
or a necklace. 

In order to defy the Paris mud, ladies wore high-heeled kid 
boots, and gaiters of lamb-skin, buttoning on the outer side. 

Shoes were hardly seen except at balls, and were worn with 
beautiful hand-embroidered stockings, either of silk or Scotch 

Very pretty triiikets were manufactured in green enamel, or 
enamel, gold, and pearls, or blue oxydized silver. Cap pins and 
brooches were made with pendants, either of pearls or diamonds. 
Arabesques were greatly appreciated by women of artistic taste. 

How numerous were the toilets of one single day ! First a 
dressing-gown, then a costume for mass, another for walking, 
another for the evening, others for the theatre or a ball ! And all 
these without counting wedding-gowns, or mourning attire, or the 
dress of young girls or children. 

The great and typical novelty of 1850 was the introduction, 
first, of straw bonnets, and then of drawn bonnets. An endless 
variety were seen in places of fashionable resort. We need but 
enumerate the names of some of these ; " paillassons," " sewn 
straws," " Belgian straws" with scalloped edges ; and fancy straws 
in shell patterns, lozenges, &c. 

This revived fashion of Italian straw bonnets lasted for several 
years. Women who could afford it, purchased expensive straws 
called " pailles de Florence" (Leghorns); the middle classes 
contented themselves, generally speaking, with sewn straws. 

All these more or less expensive bonnets were trimmed with 

white ribbon, wheatears, cornflowers, and bows of ribbon or straw. 

Drawn bonnets were especially becoming to young girls; they 

were made of crepe lisse or tulle, and trimmed with bands of 

ItaHan straw. Many were made of Mechlin net, of horsehair, 



and of rice straw or chip. Black lace drawn bonnets were worn 
in general by women of a certain age. 

We see that straw was approved of by every class, and in every 
station of life. 

A woollen material, still in use at the present day, was first 
manufactured in 1850. It was called " Orleans," or "Orleance;" 
it was mixed and lustrous, was sometimes made in grey and 
black for half-mourning, and was principally used for gowns. 
" Armure," an autumn stuff, was a woollen mixture, grey, violet, or 
green, with satin stripes. 

The bodices of walking-dresses were still made to open in a V 
shape, with wide frilled sleeves and tight under sleeves, showing 
black velvet bracelets cleverly embroidered to represent coral. 

Some magnificent dresses were made of " satin a la reine," 
brocaded with little "chine" bouquets, and trimmed with flounces 
either of equal depth or graduated. 

In 1850, also, a little hand-bag or workbox vvas invented, of 
real utility, containing various little articles on the inside of the lid, 
viz. a needle-case, an instrument for the nails, a bodkin, scissors, a 
button-hook, and crochet-hooks. The box itself held a thimble, a 
little pocket-book, a pencil, a looking-glass, and a pincushion. It 
would easily hold in addition, a purse, a handkerchief, a strip of 
embroidery or any other small piece of needlework, and reels of 
cotton. It was made in brown, black, or green leather, or in 
Russian leather lined with silk. Two leather straps made it very 
convenient to carry : it has been improved every succeeding year, 
and at the present day is in constant request.^ " Bourgeoises " and 
working women have adopted it ; and it is of great service to 
all housewives. This was the origin of our present admirably 
convenient travelling-bags. 

The following was a pretty costume of the period. A green 
or blue silk gown shot with black, with two or three graduated 
flounces, each flounce braided in the Greek key pattern, with 
narrow black velvet ribbon. The basque bodice (for all kinds of 
basques were worn) was trimmed with velvet. A fine white 
This was the well-known " Ladies' companion." 


petticoat embroidered in open work was visible, if the dress were 
ever so little held up. 

Silk was in such universal demand that fabulous prices were 
asked for it ; and velvet was less esteemed than moire antique, or 
brocades, or gros de Tours, or satin-striped chines, or reps with 
velvet bands, or watered poplins, or Irish plaid poplins. 

Nevertheless, shop-girls and workwomen made every possible 
sacrifice in order to procure a silk gown, in place of the Rouen 
cottons formerly worn. 

A decided improvement in colours came into fashion. Ladies 
perceived, or were beginning to perceive, that each should wear 
those shades most becoming to her, and that, while following the 
popular fashions of Longchamps, she should adapt her dress to 
her own face and figure. 

The various styles of gowns, mantles, and bonnets continued to 
increase in number. 

Chines were very numerous ; there were " pastel chines," 
bouquet of roses chines, chines with patterns arranged apron-fashion, 
chines with wreaths round the skirt, obelisk chines, &c. Tall and 
slight persons wore as many as five flounces, the upper one being 
gathered in with the skirt at the waist. 

Pagoda sleeves brought back velvet and ribbon bracelets ; they 
might almost have been called armlets, for the wrist was entirely 
hidden by bows and ends. This was very becoming to thin 
persons : those with round, plump arms wore a plain piece of velvet 
and a buckle. 

Handkerchiefs were bordered in button-hole stitch, and for full 
dress were embroidered and trimmed with lace, or were made of 
" carre d'Angleterre." 

Gloves of kid and lambskin were so greatly in request, that the 
manufacturers raised the price on the pretext that " the massacre 
of the poor little animals did not supply the demand." 

A few dressmakers revived the shaped sleeves terminated by a 
narrow wristband, and the " mousquetaire " or cavalier collars. 

Waistcoats came into fashion in 1851, and were greatly worn 
under basque bodices ; thus the ladies once more gave their 


sanction to the garment worn by Gilles, a buffoon of the eighteenth 

For morning wear, waistcoats were of black velvet, buttoning 
high to the throat ; for afternoon, they were of embroidered silk, 
and had gilt buttons. For full dress, the buttons were of plain or 
chased gold, coral, turquoise, or garnet. 

Canezous were very useful to wear with skirts that still retained 
their freshness. They were either bordered with button-hole 
stitch or with narrow lace. They were worn in summer. On 
the first sign of cold weather, muslin and gauze canezous gave 
way to jackets of thicker material. 

Canezous were frequently worn by good managers, in order to 
utilize skirts whose bodices were partially worn out, and they were 
very economical. 

We need not go further afield to account for the long duration 
of this fashion, both in town and country. 



1S5I TO 1S54. 

Ready-made mantles— Talmas, mousquetaiies, and rotondes— The Second Empire; remini- 
scences of the reign of Napoleon I.— Marriage of Napoleon III. ; dress of the new 
empress ; her hair dressed by Felix Escalier ; court mantle and train— Four kinds of 
dress— Opera dress in 1853-4— Bodices "a la Vierge," Pompadour bodices, and 
Watteau bodices— Skirt trimmings— A new colour, " Theba "—Light tints— Social and 
theatrical celebrities— The Eugenie head-dress and Mainnier bands— End of the first 
period of Imperial fashions. 

Dressmakers, like tailors, had begun to deal in ready-made 
garments; and found purchasers for their cloaks, mantles, and 
trimmed shawls. Special shops were established all over Paris, 
where customers might make selections from immense assortments 
of goods. Some of these houses have developed since then into 
monster bazaars. 

A "Talma'' was a cloth mantle, with or without a hood, and 
trimmed in various ways, and was a special favourite with ladies. 
Some other shapes were extremely simple. Talmas were also called 
"Cervantes," or "Charles X.," or " Valois," or "Charles IX." 

The Talma clearly derived its origin from Spain. A cloak 
called "Andromache" was also worn; it recalled the fashions 
of Greece, and still more the stage triumphs of Rachel. So 
ineffaceable is the influence of senius ! 

Next came "Romeos," "mousquetaires," "Charles the Fifth'.s," 
and "rotondes." 

Mousquetaires were trimmed with velvet " chevrons," and were 
fastened by tabs and large buttons. The others were all shaped 
like the talma, with a few unimportant variations. 

On theestablishment of the Second Empire, the fashions of the 
First were not immediately adopted, notwithstanding the prognosti- 


cations of certain enthusiasts. We must note, however, that waists 
became shorter, and that reminiscences of the time of the Great 
Napoleon were perceptible in some of the accessories of dress, 
although they took, no real root among us. Frenchwomen showed 
a reluctance to wear costumes that had been severely criticized in 
their hearing. 

Many years were destined to pass by before any attempt should 
be made to revive the shapes of the First Empire. 

The marriage of Napoleon III., however, gave a new impetus to 
feminine fashion, and every woman set herself to imitate as far as 
possible the style of dress worn by the Empress, now suddenly 
become the arbiter of attire. 

The dress worn by the Emperor's bride at the marriage in 
the Cathedral of Notre Dame, was of white terry velvet, with a 
long train. The basque bodice was high, and profusely adorned 
with diamonds, sapphires, and orange-blossoms. The skirt was 
covered with "point d'Angleterre." This kind of lace had been 
selected on account of the veil, which it had been impossible to 
procure in " point d'Alen9on." Felix Escalier dressed the new 
Empress's hair. There were two bandeaus in front ; one was 
raised and peaked in the Marie Stuart shape, the other was rolled 
from the top of the head to the neck, where it fell in curls that, 
according to a poet, looked like " nests for Cupids." 

This costume was long the subject of conversation in both 
aristocratic and bourgeois salons, especially among the adherents of 
the Imperial Regime. 

We must say a few words concerning the court mantle, and the 
court train, which soon took its place in official attire. 

The true court mantle falling from the shoulders was reserved, 
it is said, for the Empress, the princesses, and some few highly 
honoured ladies exclusively ; for the Imperial Court wished to 
imitate exactly the magnificence displayed by Louis XIV., and the 
first ranks of Society became luxurious in the extreme. 

A court train consisted of a skirt opening in front, but 
falling low at the sides, and ending in a long train. The train 
was attached to the waist. Ladies found it necessary to consult 


a dancing-master in order to learn, not how to advance with a 
train, which was easy enough, but how to turn round, and especially 
how to retreat, which was extremely difficult. 

Lappets were necessary for court dress ; they fell to the waist, 
and were generally made of lace, and occasionally embroidered in 
gold or silver. 

At full-dress assemblies, elegance and splendour of attire 
increased day by day ; the most brilliant inventions in millinery 
succeeded each other uninterruptedly. 

The first dressmakers in Paris were employed in making for 
the new Empress four series of gowns, if we may so describe 
them, viz. evening gowns, ball-dresses, visiting dresses, and 
morning gowns. Among those for " full dress " was one of pink 
moire antique ; it had a basque bodice trimmed with fringe, lace, 
and white feathers ; another was of green silk, the flounces 
trimmed with curled feathers ; and a third of mauve silk, the 
flounces bordered with Brussels lace. All were made with 
basques, long-waisted, and either with trains or demi-trains 
rounded off. The bodices for the most part were draped. 

However great the desire of many persons to see the fashions 
of the First Empire revived, those I have just described were 
certainly far from resembling them. Although waists were 
slightly shortened, the general aspect of dress retained the youthful, 
elegant, and slim effect which has always been, and will always 
remain, so creditable to the French taste. 

The majority of ladies felt no temptation to recall the times of 
that Marcchale Lefebvre, who was as famous for her finery and 
feathers as for her singular choice of language and her extra- 
ordinary remarks. Nothing of the past can be enduring, except 
that which has succeeded. 

During the winter of 1853-4, dresses were worn at the opera, 
of which I will describe one as a typical example. 

The gown was of grey " poult de sole," the high bodice was 
fastened by ruby buttons, and the basques, open on the hips, were 
trimmed with a knot of cherry-coloured ribbon. The five flounces 
of the skirt were trimmed with ribbon of the same hue, laid on 


flat, and terminating in bows withi long ends. This was very 
unlike the dresses of 1810. 

Bodices " a la Vierge,'' Pompadour and Watteau bodices with 
trimmings of lace, velvet, flowers, and ruched, quilled, or plain 
ribbon, were extremely fashionable. There was a certain grace 
about them. 

On the whole, women greatly preferred the stomachers of the 
eighteenth century to the short waists of the first years of the 
nineteenth. They modelled themselves rather on the ancient 
order of things, than on the commencement of the new order, 
because above all they sought for pure and delicate outline. 

The fashions of the reign of Louis the Eighteenth were 
resorted to for trimming the skirts of ball-dresses. Large pufiings 
of muslin or lace came almost up to the knees. Here and there 
little butterfly bows of ribbon nestled in the interstices of the puffs, 
and produced a charming effect. 

The number of new colours was considerable. " Thcba " was 
a brownish-yellow tint, much favoured, it is said, by the Empress, 
and consequently a good deal used by authorities on dress. But 
it did not remain in fashion longer than was considered desirable 
by persons always in quest of fresh novelties. 

Light colours were generally preferred, and every imaginable 
tint was tried in turn with inconceivable rapidity. 

A glimpse of the Empress Eugenie as she drove through the 
Bois de Boulogne sufficed to set the fair observers to work upon a 
faithful reproduction of her costume. The toilette at a ball at the 
Tuileries afforded food for thought during many days to those 
who had been present. 

A few of the court ladies seemed to legislate for Fashion, and 
sometimes they even competed with their sovereign. Scores of 
newspapers described the shape and colour of their dresses, their 
jewels, and the flowers or feathers in their hair, and gave minute 
details of the fetes which they adorned as much by their attire as 
by their beauty, when they were not tempted into eccentricity. 

Only a few actresses of celebrity rivalled the influence of the 
Empress and her court, especially in the matter of hair-dressing. 


The modes adopted by Princess Mathilde, Mme. Espinasse, Mme. 
de Mouchy, Princess Murat, and the Duchess de Morny, were 
admired, it is true, but so also were those called Marco-Spada, 
Favart, Miolan-Carvalho, Doche, Traviata, Biche-au-Bois, Pierson, 
Cabel, Ophelia, Marie Rose, and Adelina Patti. 

One "coiffure Eugenie" was effected by raising and drawing 
back the hair from the forehead, and arranging it with the aid of 
the " Mainnier bandeau," a simple and easily used contrivance. It 
was only necessary to divide the bandeau into two equal parts, 
reserving in the middle a small lock that was tightly plaited. 
This plait was fixed by a comb, and it supported the foundation 
on which the " coiffure " was arranged ; the firm, puffed-out bands 
then only required smoothing. With this very few curls were 
worn. With the help of the Mainnier bands, the Eugenie coiffure 
formed a roll that increased in size from above the forehead until 
it reached the ear, where one or two curls falling on the neck 
completed the arrangement. 

Such were the fashions of the first Imperial period, which 
inaugurated an era of luxury in every rank of society, but did 
not as yet produce those successive inventions in dress that we 
shall afterwards have to note, and which are continuously 
developed in the present generation. 



1854 AND 1S55. 

Crinoline inaugurates the second era of Imperial fashions— The reigii of crinoline— Starched 
petticoats— Whaleboned petticoats— Steel hoops— Two camps are formed, one in favour 
of, and one inimical to crinoline — Carge collars— Marie Antoinette fichus and mantles — 
Exhibition of 1S55— Cashmere shawls — Pure cashmeres— Indian cashmere shawls — 
Indian woollen shawls—" Monzaia " shawls — Algerian burnouses— Pompadour parasols 
—Straight parasols— School for fans— The fan drill— The Queen of Oude's fans— The 
Charlotte Corday fichu. 

Crinoline made its appearance, and revived the era of hoops. It 
was an ungraceful invention ; the crinoline swayed about under the 
skirt in large graduated tubes made of horsehair. 

" Crinoline is only fit," said a clever woman, " for making 
grape-bags or soldiers' stocks." 

This fashion was vigorously and constantly attacked. A lady, 
for instance, taking her seat in a railway carriage, was compelled to 
hold her flounces together within the space allotted to her ; but a 
great wave of crinoline overshadowed her neighbour during the 
whole journey. The next neighbour grumbled naturally, but in 
suppressed tones, for fear of giving offence. When the journey 
was over, very uncomplimentary remarks were passed on the 
obnoxious garment. 

There were several other modes of sustaining the flounces of a 
gown. Why not adopt starched petticoats, or flounced or three- 
skirted petticoats in coarse calico ? 

Horsehair was surely not the only resource for swelling out one's 

In spite of its opponents, or perhaps because of them, crinoline 
soon ruled with an absolute sway. 

Numbers of women, after holding forth against " those horrid 

Q 2 


crinolines," were ready to wear starched and flounced petticoats, 
less ungraceful indeed than horsehair, but extremely inconvenient. 
The essential point was to increase the size of the figure, to conceal 
thinness, and, above all, to go with the stream. 

Some very fashionable women invented a whaleboned skirt, not 
unlike a bee-hive. The largest circumference was round the hips, 
whence the rest of the dress fell in perpendicular lines. Others 
preferred hoops arranged like those on a barrel. The most 
unassuming had their flounces lined with stifle muslin, and the edges 
of their gowns with horsehair, and loaded themselves with four or 
five starched or "caned" petticoats. What a weight of clothes ! 

As for the steel hoops that were soon universally worn, not 
only were they extremely ugly, but they swayed from side to side, 
and sometimes, if not made sufficiently long, the lower part of 
the skirt would fall Inwards. Men smiled involuntarily at such 
exhibitions as they passed them in the streets, but the fair wearers 
were not one whit disturbed. 

The gravest political question of the day was not more exciting 
to Frenchmen than that of crinoline to Frenchwomen. Two 
camps were formed, in one of which the adversaries of crinoline 
declaimed against it, while in the other its defenders took 
their stand on Fashion, whose decrees they contended must be 
blindly obeyed. Moreover, crinoline had now become generally 
worn, and its enemies were acquiring a reputation for ill-nature, 
prejudice, and obstinate grumbling. 

But though swelling skirts retained their pre-eminence in fashion, 
cages and hoops were gradually succeeded by numerous starched 
petticoats, and this was a slight Improvement. 

Crinoline therefore became less ridiculous, but not without a 
struggle ; and It took years to bring about a change that the 
simplest good taste should have effected after the appearance of 
horsehair, whalebone, and steels. 

During the prevalence of skirts resembling balloons, ladies wore 
very large collars, to which they gave historic names of the time of 
Louis XIII. and Louis XIV., evoking reminiscences of Anne of 
Austria, Cinq-Mars, Mdlle. de Mancini, and the Musketeers. 

An immense crinoline and an enormous collar constituted the 


principal part of a costume. The rest was merely accessory, and 
was unnoticed on the moving mass for which the pavement of the 
capita! was far too narrow, and which offered a large surface to 
splashes of mud. 

At the same period, Marie Antoinette fichus, either black or 
white, and trimmed with two rows of lace, were very fashionable ; 
they were crossed over the chest, and tied behind the waist. 
Black lace bodices were equally popular. Both looked very well 
over a low dress. Beautiful lace, long hidden in old cupboards, 
was now brought out and turned to account. Several articles of 
dress were revived in remembrance of Marie- Antoinette. Besides the 
fichu, our great ladies wore Marie Antoinette canezous and mantillas. 
The ends of the canezou finished at the waist, while those of the 
mantilla were crossed under the arms. Nothing could be lighter or 
more graceful. Both fichu and canezou found fanatical admirers. 
The Empress demi-veils were also a lasting success. Some were 
made of tulle " point d'esprit," and edged with a deep blond lace, 
frilled on ; others were of open network, and hardly concealed the 
face at all. 

The year following the Paris International Exhibition of 1855, 
cashmere shawls generally formed a portion of handsome winter 
costumes. Shawls, even in Ternaux' time, had not been so 
universally worn. 

In addition to those of India, shawls of excellent quality were 
manufactured in Paris, Lyons, and Nimes, and in textures not 
inferior to those of the East. 

The pure cashmere shawls were entirely composed of cashmere 
wool ; the " Hindoo " cashmere shawls were the same as the pure 
cashmere, with the exception of the warp, which was in fancy silk 
twisted at the ends ; " Hindoo " woollen shawls had the same warp 
as the Indian cashmere, but the woof was of wool, more or less 
fine in quality. 

Towards the end of the summer, as the evenings became cooler, 
mantillas and basquines were succeeded by " Mouzaia " or 
" Tunisian " shawls, manufactured from silk refuse, and generally 
striped in two colours. Some blue and white ones were very 
pretty, resembling African shawls. 


Algerian burnouses with Thibet tassels were greatly used for 
wraps at theatres, concerts, and balls. French ladies, seen from 
a distance, looked much like Arabs ; but at least their shoulders 
were protected from the cold, and that was the essential point. 

Burnouses with slightly pointed capes, called "Empress mantles," 
were made in plush, Siberian fur, and plaid velvet. These 
mantles were universally popular; they were worn in France, and 
throughout Europe, being most comfortable as well as elegant, 
when gracefully put on. 

In the same year straight parasols were succeeded by those with 
folding handles, made principally of bordered moire antique, and 
trimmed either with frills of the same, or with fringe. 

These " Pompadour" parasols became more and more splendid; 
they were covered in Chantilly, Alen^on, point lace, or blond, 
and some were embroidered in silk and gold. 

They were mostly made of moire antique, and always with a 
double frill, the edges of which were pinked. Generally speaking, 
the handles were of ivory and coral. The lace coverings fell 
gradually into disuse, owing to their liability to be torn. 

The handles of parasols for morning wear were generally of 
cane or bamboo ; more expensive ones had handles of rhinoceros 
horn, green ivory, or tortoise-shell, with coral, cornelian, or agate 
knobs. The " bourgeoises " were quite satisfied to use such as these 
when out on household business or paying unceremonious visits. 

Parasols with folding handles were soon laid aside, and straight 
handled ones, worthy rivals of the "marquises " or "duchesses,"' 
resumed their old place. Women of fashion possessed exquisite 
white or coloured moire parasols, lined with blue, pink, or white, 
with handles of foreign woods, tortoise-shell inlaid with gold, or 
rhinoceros horn. For country wear they were made in ecru 
batiste, lined with coloured sarsnet. 

Parasols were now quite indispensable, for in the wide, open 
spaces of Paris there was no protection from the sun, the trees 
affording only a delusive shade. 

At the same time, fans were in such universal request, especially 
with young ladies, that it was proposed in jest to found a school 
of instruction in the art of managing them. 


According to the programme proposed for the imaginary pupils, 
the word of command would be, " Prepare fans," on which they 
were to be taken in the hand, and held in readiness. At the 
word "Unfurl fans," they were to be gradually opened, then 
closed, then opened again. 

Frenchwomen used their fans as skilfully as Spanish women 
manoeuvred theirs. A fashionable Frenchwoman knew how to 
manage very gracefully all the accessories of her visiting or 
walking costumes, viz. her fan, parasol, handkerchief, smelling- 
bottle, card-case, and purse. 

In 1859 the public was much interested in the fan bequeathed 
to the Princess Clotilde by the Queen of Oude ; it was of white 
silk, richly embroidered with emeralds and pearls ; the handle of 
ivory and gold was set with rubies and with seventeen diamonds 
of the finest water. 

But, without being equally splendid, many fans of the period 
were worthy of being classed among works of art. They were 
exquisitely painted copies of the works of Watteau, Lancret, and 
Boucher. Since then young girls have learned to paint fans in our 

One more variation must be noted in the fashions of 1859. 

The Marie Antoinette fichu was succeeded by the Charlotte 
Corday, which formed a sort of drapery, raised upon the shoulders, 
and loosely tied in front. It was principally worn by the 
"bourgeoises." In the "great world," to use an old but conven- 
tional expression, ladies preferred the Marie Antoinette; the 
Empress Eugenie wearing it frequently, as did the most fashion- 
able women of the Second Empire, at varying intervals. 



1855 TO 1S60. 

Sea-bathing and watering-places — Special costumes — Travelling-bags — Hoods and woollen 
shawls — Convenient style of dress — Kid and satin boots; high heels— Introduction of 
the "several" and the " Ristori " — Expensive pocket-handkerchiefs — Waists are worn 
shorter — Zouave, Turkish, and Greek jackets — Bonnet-fronts — Gold trimmings univer- 
sally used — Tarlatane, tulle, and lace. 

Fashion does not assert itself only in the ordinary round of life. 
It frequently enlarges its domain in consequence of some new 
custom, or, at least, the development of some old one ; and an 
exceptional occurrence will produce variations in it. 

For many years French people had been in the habit of. 
frequenting watering-places, and during the Second Empire the 
" villeggiatura " assumed extraordinary proportions. 

Fashionable crowds hastened to Dieppe, Trouville, Pornic, 
Biarritz, &c., or to Vichy, Plombieres, Bagneres, and other 
thermal places, on the pretext of health. 

But these temporary absences did not emancipate them from 
the yoke of Fashion. The most fantastic and even eccentric 
costumes were invented for ladies, young girls, and children, and 
certain costumes that had been popular at the seaside were worn 
during the ensuing winter season in Paris. 

Casaques, hoods, and capelines found their way from the sea- 
beach into the towns, where, if not worn by great ladies, they 
were adopted by the " bourgeoises " and working-women. 

Travelling-bags, for instance, came into general use in France, 
and were sometimes transformed into dressing-cases. 

Extravagance in dress was the rule at watering-places. Ladies 


walked by the sea splendidly attired in silk gowns, brocaded, or 
shot with gold or silver. One would have imagined one's self 
present at a ball at the Tuileries, or some ministerial reception, 
rather than at a seaside place of resort. On fine days ladies wore 
satin spring-side boots, with or without patent leather tips, but 
invariably black ; blue and chestnut-brown boots being no longer 
in fashion. In the heat of summer, however, grey boots were 
admissible. High heels were worn, and have since that time become 
higher still, until one wonders how women will at last contrive to 
keep their balance. 

Generally speaking, boots were made entirely of kid, but some- 
times they were of patent leather. The most stylish were partly 
kid and partly patent leather, ornamentally stitched, and laced on 
the instep. 

To these we must add slippers, shoes with large bows or 
buckles, and even modern sandals, which, although very elegantly 
arranged, were only worn by a small minority. 

At the time of which we speak, a singular novelty was produced, 
called the " several," from the English word meaning many. 

A "several" contained within itself seven different garments, 
and could be worn either as a burnous, a shawl, a shawl-mantle, a 
scarf, a " Ristori," or a half-length basquine. Although patented 
and of moderate price, " severals " did not long remain in fashion. 
" Ristoris," in particular, ceased to be worn so soon as the 
celebrated Italian tragedian whose name they bore, and who had 
been thoroughly appreciated in France, had left our country. 

Pocket-handkerchiefs were round, printed in colours, or with 
chess-board borders, or hem-stitched, or trimmed with Valenciennes 
insertion and stitched bias bands. The fashion of expensive hand- 
kerchiefs was by no means new, yet never before had they been 
made with such exceeding care, trimmed with such valuable lace, or 
so delicately embroidered. It was usual for ladies to embroider 
their own handkerchiefs, a task on which they bestowed extreme 
pains, achieving perfect marvels of patience and art. 

In 1859, waists were almost on a sudden perceptibly shortened, 
and a considerable number of women seemed to fear that fashion 


was returning to the ungraceful waists of the First Empire — a 
period which they looked upon as the Iron Age of dress. The 
style of costume most generally worn that year consisted of a 
dark green gown with pagoda sleeves, very full, much trimmed, 
and a wide ribbon sash tied in front. The bonnet would be white 
and green, with white curtain and strings edged with green, and 
pretty artificial flowers^particularly daisies, that look like pearls, 
notwithstanding their golden centres. 

The apprehension of a return to short waists was not realized. 
Good taste triumphed over the incomprehensible whim of wishing 
to resume former fashions, which had given rise to the adverse and 
well-founded criticism under which they had previously succumbed. 

During 1859 ^"*^ ^^^ following years there was a rage for 
Zouave, Turkish, and Greek jackets, for " Figaros " and 
" Ristoris." Ladies considered them, and still consider them, 
very comfortable and becoming. They were made in muslin for 
summer wear, and for the autumn in cashmere or cloth. Some 
were black, and braided in various colours in the Algerian style, 
others of different bright shades were braided in black, and some 
in gold. These jackets were very much worn in the country. 

Now it is next to impossible that a jacket should go well with 
a very short waist, and as jackets were particularly graceful, they 
certainly helped to maintain the reign of long waists still in fashion 
at the present day. 

Among adjuncts of dress we may mention bonnet-caps, consisting 
of ruchings or twists, as being very much worn. Nets, also, were 
extremely fashionable, as they well deserved to be ; some were 
finished with bias bands of velvet, and others with gilt buttons 
and buckles. 

Shortly afterwards, gold began to be used in every possible way ; 
even bonnets were spotted with gold or trimmed with gold buckles. 
Walking-dresses had gold pipings, bouquets of auriculas were 
worn, gilt pins with little chains, and frequently large gold 

White Arabian burnouses, shot with gold and silver, were used 
as opera and ball wraps. 



Tarlatans were made with diamond-shaped spots of black velvet, 
having a gold pip in the centre, and tulles with gold stars ; 
tarlatans, also, with gold spots or stripes. 

The extremely transparent muslin texture known as tarlatan 
is of unknown origin — it had an immense success for balls and 
parties, and is still much patronized by the most elegant women ; 
at the present time it is constantly seen in our salons. 




i860 TO 1862. 

Fashions in i860 and 1861 — ^Jewellery — Shape of " Russian " bonnets — Nomenclature of 
girdles— Different styles of dressing the hair— The " Ceres " «Teath— Flowers and leaves 
for the hair — Prohibition of green materials — Anecdotes from the Union Medicale and 
the Journal de la .Vihi re— CXoih and silk mantles —Braid and astrakan— Four types of 
bonnet — Morning bonnets — Artificial flowers. 

Now that our task is nearly completed, we might, if necessary, 
appeal to the recollections of our readers, for we have reached the 
contemporary era, and we approach the present time. 

In i860, as in 1840, necklaces, lockets, and gold or diamond 
crosses, suspended by a velvet ribbon or a gold chain, were worn 
round the neck. 

The wealthy wore necklaces composed of separate stars formed 
of precious stones, or of large gold beads arranged three by three, 
pear-shaped, and terminating in a gold point. 

Some little variations apart, ornaments of this kind have always 
been conspicuous in feminine dress. The utmost inventiveness of 
jewellers has only modified the shapes of necklaces, lockets, and 

The same may be said of buckles, watches, watch-chains, buttons, 
and bracelets ; in a word, of all the trinkets successively sanctioned 
by Fashion. 

In the year of which we are now writing, the best dressed 
women, adopted for watering-place wear the Russian hat 
proper, if I may so style it. This hat was of Belgian straw, 
high crowned, the brims turned up and covered with velvet, of 
perfectly round shape, like a plate, and trimmed with a large 
rosette in front, and an aigrette higher than the crown of the hat. 

With that exception, there was nothing new or original in dress. 


Milliners and dressmakers made certain improvements in small 
matters, and, as is always the case, in default of new inventions, 
they endeavoured to revive, if only for a very brief period, some 
of the fashions of the past. 

There was a great variety of girdles and belts in i860, viz. : 
long and wide ones matching the gown trimmings ; long, plain 
sashes, the ends trimmed with bands of velvet, and fringe ; also 
waistbands in Russian or German leather, hand embroidered, or 
braided in gold and beads. 

In 1 86 1, wide velvet belts called "Medici" were worn, and 
since that time sashes have become an important article of attire, 
on account of their forming part of the national dress of Alsace 
and Lorraine. 

Bands and belts of all sorts seemed to indicate, even at that 
period, the metal belts that were afterwards fashionable in 1875. 

In 1 86 1, bands of gold, either straight or diadem shaped, were 
worn on the head, and were extremely becoming to dark-haired 
women. Large gold combs, with a heavy ring to hold the hair, 
velvet coronets with gold beads or buttons, velvet twists and 
aigrettes, feather head-dresses, bunches of flowers, velvet bows, 
and "Ceres" wreaths were very fashionable. 

The favourite style of dressing the hair was in very large rolls, 
with a bunch of berries and ash privet on the top of the head ; or 
a wreath of hops and foliage ; or one of oak leaves with gold 
acorns, and a gold aigrette in the centre. Wreaths of cornflower, 
with wheat-ears meeting over the forehead, were "Ceres" wreaths. 
These seem to us to have been among the last styles arranged 
with order, and in which the talent of the hairdresser might 
manifest itself or produce any artistic result. 

The fashion of wearing false and dyed hair was about to 
reappear, and French ladies were to put in practice the axiom, 
that " beautiful disorder is an effect of art." 

A curious fact attracted the attention of Parisian society in 
1861 ; and the ladies promptly discarded all green materials. In 
a professional journal, the Union Medicale, the following paragraph 
appeared : — 

" A young married lady who had gone to a party, wearing a 


pale green satin gown, was attacked, after dancing several quadrilles, 
with sensations of numbness and want of power in the lower 
limbs, tightness in the chest, vertigo, and headache, and was 
obliged to return home. The symptoms gradually abated, but the 
feeling of weakness in the abdominal region lasted until the third 
day. No special cause, such as tight lacing, &c., could be dis- 
covered, and suspicion having been directed to the colour of the 
lady's gown, a chemical analysis was made, and the presence of a 
quantity of arsenite of copper detected. It is the opinion of 
Professor Blaslus, that the movement produced by dancing might, 
especially with dresses of the ample width required by the present 
fashion, suffice to detach a quantity of the arsenical dye, which on 
being absorbed by the lungs would give rise to symptoms of 
arsenical poisoning." 

The Journal de la Nievj'e wrote as follows : — 

" Some dressmakers living at Nevers had received an order to 
make a green tarlatan gown. Several strips of the material had 
been torn off for ruchings, thereby producing a fine dust, which, 
settling on the face and penetrating the body through the respiratory 
and nasal organs, had occasioned colic in some cases, and in others 
an eruption on the face. ..." 

Green wall-papers and green dress materials were declared to 
be equally pernicious to health. 

An Interdict was accordingly laid on green, until some chemical 
process had been discovered to obviate the dangers described by 
the Union Medicale and the Journal de la Nievre, 

Women were quite ready to suffer for the sake of their beauty, 
to tighten their waists, to Imprison their feet In shoes too narrow 
for them, to run the risk of inflammation of the chest by wearing 
low-cut gowns ; but they were not willing to be poisoned by green 
dyes, especially as green Is not a very becoming colour to most 
women, and by no means sets off the complexion. 

In order to withstand the cold of winter, our Parisian ladies 
made up their minds to wear mantles of soft cloth, or heavy " gros- 
grain " silk, although the weight of such garments fatigued them. 

These mantles were generally trimmed with broad braid ; but 
some of them were literally covered with embroidery, and were 


consequently very expensive. Real or imitation Astrakan was 
used for every kind of paletot ; the curly coats of the still-born 
lambs being greatly admired. 

Braiding and Astrakan had a long reign ; both were constantly 
used to trim various new shapes in mantles or coats, which they 
greatly improve without adding to the cost. The town of Astrakan, 
in Russia, benefited largely by the French fashions in that particular 

The following are types of the most fashionable bonnets, with 
which feathers, or velvet flowers, and rosettes, tufts (called 
chous), or bows of black lace and white blond, were worn : ( i ) 
a bonnet in royal blue velvet, with a scarf of white tulle laid on 
the brim ; (2) a black velvet bonnet, with white tulle scarf put 
round the crown, and falling over the curtain; (3) a red satin 
(groseille des Alpes) drawn bonnet, covered with tulle, and with 
bows at the side; (4) an orange velvet bonnet, with soft crown 
and white tulle brim, a wreath of flowers on the edge. 

For morning dress, horsehair, Belgian straw, and chip bonnets 
were worn. 

Very little change was observable in boots, which were generally 
made of leather or Turkish satin (satin turc) ; shoes, either 
trimmed or plain, and pumps were no longer in fashion. 

Ball-dresses in 186 1-2 were generally rose-coloured, with an 
over-skirt of lace, and adorned with flowers. On the head was 
worn a brilliant bunch of roses, giving a charming finish to the 
whole costume. 

The manufacture of artificial flowers received a great impetus at 
the Exhibition of 1855; and it is no exaggeration to say that 
flowers which rivalled Nature itself were produced. 



1862 TO 1S67. 

Sunshades in 1862 — Sailors' jackets, jerseys, and pilot-jackets — Princess or demi-princess 
gowns ; Swiss bodices ; corset or postillion belts — Lydia and Lalla Rookh jackets — 
Vespertina opera cloaks — " Longchamps is no more"— Bois de Boulogne— Russian or 
Garibaldi bodices — Paletot vest — Empress belt — 1S85 patents for inventions regarding 
dress are taken out in 1864 — Victoria skeleton skirts; Indian stays; train supporters — 
" Titian ''-coloured hair— The Peplumin 1866 — Epicycloide steels ; aquarium earrings^ 
Description of a court ball-dress^The fashions of Louis XV., Louis XVL, and the 
Empire are revived — Sedan chairs^Handkerchiefs at all prices. 

In our beautiful France, where the fault of the climate is its too 
frequent showers, it often happened that ladies set out to walk, 
parasol in hand, with the sun shining brightly overhead, but 
during their walk a downpour of rain would overtake them, ruin 
their dress in one moment, and reduce them to utter despair. 

How were such heavy misfortunes to be avoided ? How were 
mortals to contend against the uncertainty of climate .'' 

A remedy was sought and found. Parasol-makers invented 
the " en-tout-cas," equally useful in sunshine and in rain ; and in 
1862 they went a step farther, and manufactured parasols that 
might have been called " metis," or half-breeds — that is to say, half 
en-tout-cas and half sunshade. These were equally useful as a 
protection against heavy rain or burning sunshine. 

And now began the reign of the comfortable ; every day the 
dress and bearing of women became more unrestrained, and 
less formal. 

In 1862, sailors' jackets, jerseys, and pilot-jackets were not 
only worn while travelling, or in the country, but also in towns. 
They were made of light cloth, in English textures, in silk poplin, 
alpaca, and black silk with much gimp trimming — for gimp is 



never out of fashion; it is too valuable to the dressmakers, as a 

means of increasing the amount of their bills. 

Simultaneously with the introduction of the fancy garments I 

have just mentioned, gowns were very prettily made, with bodices 

either slif^htly pointed, or with waistbands or long sashes, or else 

princess shape or dcmi-princess. Swiss bodices were also worn, 

and " corslet " and " postillion " belts. 

The above designations need no commentary; the elegant 

appearance of such costumes can be easily imagined ; they were 

"characteristic," and not always of French origin. On that very 

account, perhaps, they were the more successful. 

Very many fashions are the result of caprice ; but they are also 

modes of commemorating some great literary, musical, or dramatic 

success, or of celebrating some important event. 

In 1863, the Fashion journals were loud in praise of the 

" Lydia" paletot, the "Lalla Rookh" jacket, and the " Vespertina" 

opera cloak. " Senorita " jackets, in velvet, silk, light shades of 

cashmere, and cloth, were in great favour. 

The ready reception nowadays given to new fashions without 

waiting, as formerly, for certain seasons is easily explained. In 
1863 a cry was heard, " Longchamps is no more ! " and it is true 

that Longchamps has ceased to exist. The traditional drive has 
lost its importance. Only a few tailors and dressmakers, seated 
in hired carriages, parade their new designs in the broad avenue of 
the Champs Elysees ; poor lay figures, wanting in any kind of 
ease or elegance. The days are gone when fashionable Paris used 
to display the newly invented modes on the road leading from the 
Abbey of Longchamps to the Tuileries; when the Wednesday, 
Thursday, and Friday in Holy Week were red-letter days in the 
annals of extravagance and splendour. At the present time, the 
Bois de Boulogne is a constant scene of fashionable rivalry, and is 
equally crowded in winter and summer, spring and autumn. 

Daily drives have thus taken the place of the annual solemnities 
of Longchamps. The garments that are most noticeable set the 
fashion, which is greatly determined by the rank of the wearer. 
True, Longchamps is dead; but it has been resuscitated in a 


brilliant and permanent form among the leafy avenues of the 
Bois de Boulogne. 

For visiting dress, in 1863, Frenchwomen gave the preference 
to white bodices of some thin material; a pink skirt, striped with 
a darker shade of the same colour; a straw bonnet, trimmed with 
black ribbon and a few wild flowers ; a knot of lace at the throat, 
and some black lace round the wrists. 

The most striking of the slight innovations of 1864 were the 
Russian or "Garibaldi " bodices of foulard, or of white, red, blue, 
or Havana silk, either braided or embroidered in Russian stitch ; 
and the Louis XV. coats and waistcoats, of an English cloth 
of black and grey mixture. The waistcoats, when not of the 
same material, were of velvet, smooth cloth, or "gros-grain" silk. 
The Russian bodices, however, and the coat-waistcoats, were 
considered too much in " undress " style, and were soon succeeded 
by further novelties. 

Ladles who still wore them, provided themselves with silken 
" aumonieres," or bags embroidered in jet and suspended by bows 
of ribbon and lace ; and with the Empress or hygienic belt, a 
small corset made of elastic material, which, when warm, adapted 
itself to every movement of the body. It was, in fact, the " stays " 

The quantity of toilet articles manufactured in a single year is 
really remarkable. 

In 1864, the Bulletin des Lois published an edict, by which 
eighteen hundred and eighty-five inventions patented in that one 
year were registered. On every page is something concerning 
dress, viz.: an instrument for waving the hair; steel skeleton 
skirts, called "Victoria cages," "corset a jour," or Indian stays; 
petticoats for supporting trains, called " porte-trains ;" bonnets 
with faded American creeper, feather parasols, a "transformable 
and multiple system of clothing," iron shoes, wicker head-dresses, 
petticoats with movable flounces, " bijou " garters, &c. 

We must not forget that the year 1864 was famous for the 
adoption of the "Titian" tresses. Red hair or yellow hair was 
an ideal eagerly sought after by many ladies, who either concealed 

R 2 


their own beautiful dark hair, or dyed it to the desired shade. In 
a certain section of society there was quite a rage for Titian- 
coloured hair. 

There were some quite impossible hues, intended to harmonize 
with the thickly laid-on paint of the face, — for faces were painted, 
— just as in the eighteenth century. 

Laughter frequently greeted the appearance of these painted 
idols in places of public resort, but it was quite ineffectual. 

An elegant costume, worn in 1865, consisted of a pearl grey 
dress, with braidings of the same colour, a black belt and silver 
buckle, and a black bonnet with red ribbons. 

The " peplum " of 1866 was formed of a small "corslet," to 
which a basque was attached, square in front and at the back, 
and very long at the sides. This was called the Empress peplum. 
With this new garment, crinoline was decidedly an anomaly, and 
its fall commenced. The " peplum," regarded from that point of 
view, marks an epoch in history, and deserves our gratitude. 

Unfortunately all gowns of heavy material were shaped " a 
I'Empire." The skirts were cut straight at the back, and worn 
with melon-shaped dress-improvers in horsehair. Stiff muslin or a 
small down cushion was sometimes used instead of horsehair. 

One manufacturer invented a petticoat with springs, of which 
part could be detached at pleasure ; another, a transparent parasol ; 
a third advertised his system of aeration for the hair; and a fourth 
sold notched steels for petticoats, called " epicyclo'ides." There 
were "aquarium" earrings, consisting of small globes in rock 
crystal suspended to little branches of water-grasses in enamel ; 
the globes contained fishes. Chains called " Benoiton," after 
Sardou's famous play, were worn below the chin and underneath 
the bonnet strings, like a curb chain. 

The principal Paris newspapers described the dress of Mme. 
R. K at a court ball as follows: " A white gown with alter- 
nate bands of tulle and satin ; above this a skirt of silver tulle, with 
wreaths of roses, and spangled with little stars or dots of black 
velvet ; a very long black velvet train edged with satin ; a belt of 
emeralds and diamonds ; hair dressed 'a I'Empire,' and powdered 


with gold ; a knot of black velvet and a diamond aigrette in the 
hair; no crinoline." 

Yet a few years, and crinoline will be no more. From 1865 
to 1867 costumes were worn short, and no longer swept the 
streets. But shortly afterwards skirts were lengthened again, 
almost as much as in i860. 

The Louis XV. and the Louis XVL styles were equal favourites 
for ball dresses, and they soon became fashionable for walking. 
Ruchings, kiltings, and plaitings "a la vieille " were much used. 
The Watteau mantle, with two large box plaits hanging at the 
back, and the " Bachelick,'' with a pointed hood, were both 
equally popular. The fashionable bonnets were the " Trianon," 
" Watteau," " Lamballe,'' and " Marie Antoinette." 

Under the influence of these eighteenth-century costumes, 
sedan chairs for going to church, or for early morning visits, 
seemed bound to reappear. Mmes. de la Rochefoucauld, De la 
Tremouille, De Faucenes, and De Metternich used them ; but this 
was a mere caprice of wealth, and it did not last. 

Mufl^s were small in 1866 : the handsomest were of sable tails, 
and were very valuable. A very small one cost 350 francs. 
Women who were not rich, or who were of an economical turn, 
contented themselves with imitation fur, or with Australian marten, 
Astrakan being now out of fashion. A good many muffs were 
made of velvet, trimmed with fur or feathers, and as they were 
essentially useful appendages, they were no longer confined to 
elegant costumes as formerly; the "bourgeoises" and even the 
Paris working-women used those of inferior quality, and have 
continued to do so. 



1S67 TO 1S70. 

p'lvc different styles of dressing the hair in 1S68 and 1869— " Petit catogan ;" three triple 
bandeaus — The hair is worn loose — Dress of the Duchess de Mouchy — Refinements of 
fashion— Various journals — New shades — Crinoline is attacked ; it resists; it succumbs 
— Chinese fashions. 

At this time women indulo-ed more than ever in extravagance 
in dress, and in the strangest whims of fashion. The minor 
newspapers published paragraphs describing the costumes of this 
or that great lady, designating each by her name, by no means 
to the displeasure of the fair ones thus distinguished. Tailors and 
dressmakers grew rich. 

A very favourite costume consisted of a pink gown, a straw 
bonnet and white feather, yellow gloves, and pale grey boots. 

In 1868-9 the following styles of dressing the hair were 
fashionable : — 

1 . The hair drawn up from the forehead in a small " catogan " 
or club, and a large " coque " or bow of hair above ; short curls 
over the "catogan," and the same on each side. 

2. The hair drawn up from the forehead without a parting ; a 
large "coque" in the middle, surrounded by six smaller ones; six 
long ringlets falling from the back of the head, a little higher 
than the "coque," low on the shoulders. 

3. The hair fixed on the forehead, three immense " coques " on 
the top of the head, and ringlets forming a chignon behind. 

4. The hair drawn straight up trom the roots, and forming 
three rolls falling backwards; a " catogan " and three " coques " 


underneath ; one long " repentir '' or ringlet, waved, but not 

5. Three triple bandeaus in front ; a small "catogan" surrounded 
by three rows of plaits ; three large .curls behind. 

The hair was generally worn high, and dressed in a complicated 
style, but it was, above all, dishevelled. It was frequently worn 
quite loose and in disorder ; less so, however, than in 1875. 

The ornamental portions of dress were extremely handsome 
and expensive. A great deal of jewellery was worn. In 1869, 
at the Beauvais ball, the Duchess de Mouchy wore diamonds to 
the value of 1,500,000 francs. Her dress consisted of a gown 
and train of white gauze spotted with silver ; a rather short over- 
skirt of red currant-coloured silk, forming a ruched "tablier;" 
a low, square-cut bodice, and shoulder-straps of precious stones ; a 
sort of scarf of flowers, with silver foliage, fell from one shoulder 
slanting across the skirt. 

At Compiegne, Biarritz, and the Tuileries, by turns, brilliant 
costumes such as these were seen and admired, and the day 
after a fete the fashionable newspapers gave minute descriptions 
of the most elegant dresses, and a guess at their approximate 

For many years, and although there was little novelty in the 
fashions, they never ceased to be the order of the day. More 
than ever did women make them their occupation, and men also 
were deeply interested in the subject. 

There was, so to speak, a tournament of coquetry in Europe, 
in which the French ladies always bore away the palm. 

New periodicals specially devoted to Fashion were published in 
France and abroad, and supplied a real want in circles where many 
articles of dress were made at home. 

A taste for handsome dress pervaded every class of society, a 
"good cut" became every day of more importance, and the 
smallest variations were adopted, since radical changes were not 
taking place. 

During the Second Empire new colours called " Magenta," 


" Solferino," " Shanghai," and " Pekin " were produced in much 
the same chronolagical succession as the military expeditions to 
which they owed their names, and which had been successful, 
indeed, but at a great cost in blood. 

Our victories in Italy being thus commemorated by French- 
women, they condescended to recall in like manner the capture of 
Pekin and the famous treaty of Shanghai. The extreme East 
was to them no longer an unknown land. 

A decided change soon took place in the cut of dresses. As 
had frequently happened before. Fashion went from one extreme 
to the other ; balloons were succeeded by sacks, and tubs by 

In 1869, when the question of giving up crinoline was mooted, 
the leaders of fashion consulted together. One party declared 
that the reign of crinoline must come to an end on account 
of its abuses; the other pointed out that "as women now 
walk so badly on their high heels, crinolines are necessary, 
and must be retained, because they sustain the weight of the 

The latter party gained the day at first, and crinolines were 
merely modified. They were made in white horsehair, with rolls 
round the bottom and up the back only. 

But, after all, crinoline was destined to extinction, were it only 
because it had already lasted a long time. At various intervals 
its adversaries had dealt it vigorous blows, and its partisans 
now began to perceive that it was both inconvenient ana 

Crinoline could resist no further, and it fell. Dare we say for 

Crinoline was succeeded by Chinese skirts, extremely narrow 
over the hips, and precisely like those worn by the inhabitants of 
Pekin or Canton. 

The transition was abrupt and sudden. It seemed, however, 
the most natural thing in the world. 

Together with tight skirts, several other accessories of dress 



were made as much like Chinese fashions as possible. Up to a 
certain point French ladies approved of the new style, which has 
since that time undergone several transformations, the first being 
the introduction of the poufs and " tournures " that were still 
worn as recently as four years ago. 



1S70 TO 1874. 

The years 1870 and 187 1 — The siege of Paris— General mourning— Simplicity and economy 
— Parisian velvet and pekin — A concert costume — A cloth costume — Alsatian bows and 
costumes— Soirees at the Presidency — Marie Stuart and Michael Angelo bonnets—" Hunt- 
ing stockings" — Rabagas hats— The years 1S72 and 1873— Fan parasols— " Leopold 
Robert " bonnets — The year 1873 — Return of luxury — Regent belts and " sovereign " 
dress-improvers — Silks— " Moderate " costumes — The burning of the Opera House — 
Sale on behalf of those made orphans by the war— The ball for the Lyons weavers- 
Cashmere tunics — Dislike to gloves— Petticoats-Charles IX. shoes — Slippers— The 
year 1874 — " Page" bonnets and " Margol " hats — Hair in the Swiss style ; false hair 
— The ball given by the Chamber of Commerce— Green— Jet — Various costumes —Hair- 
dressing — " Mercury " bonnets. 

The fatal year of 1870 will be long and sorrowfully remem- 
bered. Our hearts are still bleeding for the misfortunes of our 
beloved France, suddenly called upon to undertake a frightful 
war, and to accept a peace purchased only at the cost of terrible 

During the siege of Paris by the German troops, when all 
communication with the departments was cut ofF, the part played 
by Fashion was interrupted, and the source of caprice in dress 
completely dried up. How could Frenchwomen indulge in the 
luxuries of dress while their native soil was red with the blood of 
their fathers, husbands, brothers, or sons ? How could they 
occupy their minds with superfluities, when millions were in want 
of the necessaries of life, when the inhabitants of the capital lacked 
food, and when France, from one end to the other, was in the 
agony of a great despair .'' 

For many months the pleasant things of home were laid aside, 
and Fashion veiled her face. Women passed their days in 
encouraging the soldiers, in making lint, in nursing the wounded, 


and in all sorts of contrivances for alleviating the privations of 
innumerable households. There was no room for other pursuits. 

Paris was encompassed by her enemies, and became like an extinct 
sun to the rest of France. The journals of Fashion that had 
formerly taught the whole world the latest Parisian inventions in 
attire or hair-dressing were now silent ! The love of dress, of 
jewels, of brilliant finery, had vanished ! 

Charitable collections were set on foot, to which the wealthy 
contributed some of their diamonds and lace. 

How great was the change in a few months ! From riches to 
poverty, from thoughtless gaiety to universal mourning ! The 
few heartless women who ventured to parade the streets in gay 
attire were scathed by the contempt of those who passed them by, 
and pitied by all generous minds. 

Such theatres as remained open, gave performance; only on 
behalf of the wounded soldiers, all fetes were for charitable 
purposes, and Fashion, entering into the spirit of the times, ruled 
with both simplicity and economy. The audiences on these 
occasions had no desire to shock public opinion by brightly 
coloured dresses, by exaggerated " poufs," or by the display of 
valuable jewels. They bore in mind that boundless luxury had 
contributed to the downfall of France, and they set the example 
of reform both in dress and manners. They selected appropriate 
costumes, ladylike and graceful it is true, but free from affectation, 
and with due regard to the melancholy circumstances of that 
terrible time. 

At the Trouville Races, in 1871, there was nothing new in the 
costumes worn, in the true signification of the word, but they 
were neither like those of the preceding year, nor, as regards 
brilliancy, like those of the latter years of the Second Empire, and 
on that account alone they deserve mention. Gowns, without 
crinolines or trains, no longer swept the b^^ach as formerly, nor 
did they display the wealth of their wearers; the visitors to the 
seaside were simply and modestly attired, and resorted thither for 
bathing merely. 

" Parisian velvet " was the new winter material. This was a 


sort of black satin, with velvet lozenges or diamonds. Another 
kind of velvet-satin, called Pekin, was very fashionable. Different 
varieties of these two materials made them suitable to every figure. 
The costume was completed by a black velvet bonnet with curled 
black feathers falling over the crown, and velvet strings. 

Satin was mixed with "Irish " cashmere for gowns, and trimmed 
with fringe, gimp, and lace. The above styles were, I repeat, 
dignified, and appropriate to the then position of France. There 
were some rare exceptions that contrasted with the general rule. 

At a private concert for the benefit of the sufferers by the war, 
the principal singer — an amateur — wore a gown of white double 
crape, with demi-train and puffings at the bottom ; three large 
" pattes " of black velvet fell over the skirt, and on each of these 
was an anchor in Rhine crystal ; the bodice was low, and trimmed 
with two ruchings of black velvet, divided by one of white crape. 
The head-dress was black velvet and pale Bengal roses. 

Under the melancholy circumstances, black was universally 
worn, but it was not like ordinary mourning, being richly trimmed ; 
and by degrees, as months passed on, and the remembrance of 
recent disasters became fainter, lighter shades were permitted to 
modify the exclusively black garments. The so-called "cloth 
costume " was also much worn ; this consisted of a tunic, jacket, 
and skirt. The tunic was polonaise shape, plain in front, and 
with two Watteau plaits behind ; the skirt was of silk, either 
flounced or kilted, or else in Orleans or cashmere, for morning; 
wear. A wide-sleeved jacket, cut out all round in "battlements," 
was worn over this costume. 

Alsatian bows for the hair, in remembrance of our beloved and 
lost Alsace, were much worn by young girls. Marie Antoinette 
fichus and Charlotte Corday caps were still in fashion, and 
becomingly adorned with Alsatian bows. 

During the Carnival of 1872 — hardly a brilliant one, as may 
be imagined — the Alsatian costume was quite a success. The 
same may be said of the costume of Lorraine. But, to our mind, 
there was something childish in thus exhibiting our regret at 
having ceded two of our finest provinces to Germany ; it was no 


affair of fashion. Visiting costumes were trimmed with ribbon 
rosettes at the side, in imitation of the Alsatian custom, and this 
style remained in fashion for more than a year. 

When summer came, alpaca, mohair, and grey " poil-de-chevre" 
or goats'-hair dresses were seen at all the public promenades. 
Black and dark shades were worn less and less every day. It was 
evident to all that the worldly spirit was reviving to a certain 
extent. Moreover, trade and manufacture required support ; 
manufacturers, traders, and workmen had all of them suffered, and 
custom was needed to repair their losses. 

Towards autumn the managers of theatres began to bring out 
new pieces ; and shortly afterwards, receptions at the Presidency 
gave some impetus to the manufacture of dress-stuffs, which had 
been seriously affected by the siege of Paris. 

Among other dresses, I recollect having seen one made with a 
demi-train, a deep kilting "a la vieille" round the bottom of the 
skirt, at the head of the kilting five rows of thick cording, and 
two bias flounces gathered together. The bodice was in one 
piece, and cut like a long square waistcoat. The basques and 
sleeves were in woollen material, and the waistcoat in silk. With 
this was worn a Marie Stuart bonnet in China crape and " taille" 
silk edcred with let beads, and trimmed with a tuft of black 
feathers with one long hanging plume. The "Michael Angelo" 
bonnet, lined with some light colour, and the "sailor" hat, in felt 
or dark velvet, were also favourites. Sets of collars and cuffs 
were made in linen, trimmed with Valenciennes or guipure; and 
dresses were trimmed with China crape, cashmere, and black or 

white lace. 

We may mention, as novelties, doeskin, kid, and cashmere 
gloves, with as many as five, six, and even ten buttons; and 
clocked stockings in all colours, called hunting stockings, and 
very much liked by the public. 

Ladies' costumes were completed by small muffs, braided and 
fur-trimmed dolmans, circular lined clcaks of silk or cachemire; 
the comfortable " Duchess mantles," that might well have been 
called Oriental; satin-lined hoods; and " Rabagas " bonnets, which 


were made of the same velvet or satin as the dress, and with 
a long feather curled round the crown. 

The " Rabagas '' hat was brought into fashion by a play 
of Victorien Sardou's, that attracted much attention by its political 
and reactionary character. 

An absurdity of the winter of 1872 deserves notice. Ladies 
carried enormous fans, almost as big as parasols, with a painted 
bouquet of flowers in the left-hand corner. This unfortunate 
invention was intended to serve both as fan and screen, but its 
reign was of short duration. The " fan-parasol " was, in fact, a 

The " Leopold Robert " bonnet, on the contrary, had a great 
success, owing to its artistic shape. It consisted of a wreath of 
flowers or foliage placed on a band of plain or puckered velvet; 
ribbon or lace at the back fell over the chignon ; there were no 
strings. A veil called a " provisoire " was wound round the head; 
it covered the face, Jewish fashion ; and the long ends crossed 
behind, then brought forward and tied under the chin, took the 
place of bonnet strings. 

The " Leopold Robert " bonnet lent a charm to ugliness itself. 
Was it on that account that pretty women gave it up .? Were 
they afraid of being lost in the crowd, and of receiving only a 
divided homage ? 

In 1873, feminine dress became extremely complicated. All 
kinds of ornamentation were used with more or less happy effect. 
It seemed as if feminine vanity were endeavouring to make up 
for the lost years 1871 and 1872. Simplicity was succeeded by 
finery of all sorts, and the trimmings of dresses cost ruinous prices. 
Fifteen or twenty flounces would be put on one skirt. Costumes 
were trimmed with chased, bronzed, or oxydized buttons. 

After an interregnum of many years, steel ornaments were 
again worn in the hair, and young girls wore a locket on velvet 
round their throat. "Regent" belts and "sovereign" dress- 
improvers were much worn, and were very becoming. 

Although there were no essential changes in the fashions, they 
became every year more difficult to define, because women were 


beginning to dress independently, each one according to her own 
taste, and with reference to age, position, and means, without 
servile imitation of any particular fashion. The ground-work of 
dress varied little, but the details were almost infinite in number, 
and were, in fact, characteristic of each individual wearer. This 
was regarded as anarchical by persons accustomed to the strict 
discipline of F'ashion. 

In a space of less than two months appeared the " Montenegrin," 
a sort of dolman which defined the figure becomingly, and was 
covered with braid and silk embroidery ; jet ornaments in great 
profusion (aigrettes, buckles, sprigs, and wheat-ears) ; " Michael 
Angelo " bonnets, trimmed with moss-roses and lilies of the valley; 
Tussore gowns (an Indian silk), trimmed with black velvet ; 
"Abbe" collars of the Louis XV. fash'on, in plaited muslin, with 
embroidered bands in front; and deep cuffs worn over tight 

A great variety of materials was used, but plain or figured 
silks in medium qualities were always more popular than fancy 
stuffs. Frills, and ruchings of net or "crepe lisse," were worn 
round the throat. 

Lockets and " saint esprits " in brilliants, strass, or Alenc^on 
diamonds, and Normandy crosses delicately carved in light foliated 
patterns, were favourite ornaments at this period. 

Many Parisian ladies wore tight-fitting tunics or polonaises in 
the street. Some very fashionable bonnets were made without 
crowns ; these were merely a thick wreath of vine leaves or flowers, 
rising rather high in front. Clusters of curls fell over the back 
of the neck, displaying the colour and beauty of the hair in a 
most charming way. 

Costumes were of two kinds, the " extraordinary " and the 
" moderate " — the latter were rather less worn than the former. 
Waistcoats and corslets remained in favour during the summer ; 
also long sleeveless cashmere and velvet jackets, and Louis XV. 
" casaques " in winter. 

On Tuesday evening, October 28, 1873, an unforeseen calamity 
befell the world of fashion. The Paris Opera House, in which so 


many masterpieces had been performed, and which was so admi- 
rably adapted for music, was burned to the ground. 

One of the temples of Fashion had perished in a night ; and for 
a time the splendid attire that had been wont to display itself at 
the Opera, had also to vanish and be seen no more. No more 
was the dazzling light of the great chandelier to be shed upon the 
"poufs" in English point, blond, jet, or tulle; the tiaras and 
" rivieres '' of diamonds, the state costumes, the magnificent Cir- 
cassian belts ! 

The destruction of the Opera House dealt a terrible blow to 
aristocratic finery, and forced it to take refuge in balls and 

The " toilette d'Opera," which was to rival that " des Italiens," 
had to wait until its temple should be rebuilt. The probation, 
however, was short. 

We are bound to admit that things were not so bad as might 
have been expected. At that very moment luxury and fashion 
were assuming gigantic proportions, and under the Third Republic 
women continued to wear clothes of excessive costliness. It was 
fortunate that persons of slender means were permitted to copy in 
simple materials the shape and trimming of high-priced costumes. 
The '• cut " became the principal point in dress, other things being 
left to the choice and discretion of the wearer. 

On the occasion of a charity sale on behalf of the orphans of 
the war, at the new Opera House, Parisians perceived that the 
love of striking costumes had not passed away. The lady stall- 
holders — Mme. Thiers, Mdlle. Dosne, the Marechale de JMac- 
Mahon, and the Princesses Troubetskoi and De Beauvau — vied 
with each other in elegance of attire, and the lady purchasers were 
not left behind ; their dresses were of various colours, more or less 
harmonious, and composed of mazes of material and floods of 
ribbon, heaps of lace, killings, flounces, and bows ; In a word, all 
that can be conceived of richness and elegance. 

Under the peristyle of the Opera Gamier, parasols in " ecru " 
silk spotted with blue or pink, trimmed with bows and two 
rows of lace ; and also " cane " parasols with large handles, were 



seen. According to the strict laws ot costume, the parasol should 
be suited to the costume, and even the fan should match. 

A ball was given afterwards at the same theatre for the benefit 
of the Lyons weavers, and the dresses were more magnificent than 
ever. But no one found fault. Mme. Musard made a great 
sensation in a dress of lime-tree colour, richly brocaded with 
bouquets of roses. The material had been manufactured at Lyons 
at a cost of 100 francs per yard. White predominated in the 
dresses of the queens of the ball — Mmes. de Mouchy, Aymery de 
la Rochefoucauld, De Behague, De Pene, De Beaufort, Alphonse 
and Gustave de Rothschild. The latter wore a wonderful "apron " 
of pearls worth several fortunes. 

A lady not quite in the first circle, would practise economy 
by wearing a cashmere tunic. This was simply her venerable 
burnous, that had been lying for years in her wardrobe, re-made 
and trimmed with lace and jet braid. Or she would resort to 
the art of the dyer, and her old green gown would emerge from 
his hands a new handsome black one, with a few yards of velvet 
added. The art of dyeing performs miracles, and at small 

A strange rumour was current in the highest circles in 1873. 

"What was that ? 

Nothing less than the abolition of gloves ! This was assuredly 
no question of economy, for their place was to be taken by a 
fashion worthy of the days of the Directory. Women of fashion 
proposed to wear clusters of rings between every finger joint ; 
each hand to bear a fortune. 

This was the fantastic dream of some "blasee" fine lady, 
longing for novelty at any price. It was not realized, as may be 
imagined ; and gloves kept their place — an important one — among 
articles of feminine attire. 

A desirable change in taste was manifested in the almost total 
suppression of the trimmings with which gowns had been over- 
loaded. Dress remained as pretty as before, and cost much less. 
A Frenchwoman can easily attain the beautiful, without over- 
stepping the bounds of moderation. Much of the grace and 


becomingness of a costume depends on the under-skirts, and, 
simple as they seem, they will long retain their importance. 

Waistcoats, " French Guard " coats, and " Leaguer " hats 
seemed like encroachments on masculine dress, but the waistcoat 
was partially disguised by a good deal of ornimentation. 

Charles IX. house-shoes were much worn ; they were of fine kid, 
rounded at the tips, with high pointed heels and low vamps 
trimmed with bows ; a kid strap across the instep, with a large 
square buckle in steel or Rhine crystal. 

Felt slippers were worn of every shade of colour, braided in 
wool. Cloth boots, with kid under-leathers, were made to match 
the costume with admirable skill. 

The year 1874 effected no change in the fashions of 1873 as 
we have described them. But some of the minor accessories were 
varied, and thus an air of novelty was given to the beginning cf 
each season. 

Flounces of English, Alengon, and Mechlin lace were mixed 
with quantities of raised embroidery, beautifully executed. 

A new shape for bonnets was favourably received in the highest 
circles of fashion. It was of black velvet, with low round crown, 
and wide brim slightly curled, something like a miller's hat. The 
edge and crown were bordered with jet beads. Some ladies wore 
this shape in felt, with a long natural ostrich feather. Young girls 
preferred the " Page " hat, with soft crown and drawn brim, and 
the " toquet Margot,'' the brim of which was plaited, and widened 
at the back into something like a bonnet curtain. 

Black continued in fashion during the winter, and was made 
brilliantly effective by the addition of lace trimmings and quantities 
of jet. Very pretty fichus made of white or black tulle, sprinkled 
with jet beads, and a high collar with frills on the inner side, were 
sometimes worn over black costumes. 

Ball dresses were characterized by deep " Henri II." ruffs, and 
"Louis XV." sleeves trimmed with steel, silver, or gold beads, 
embroidered, and even gold lace. Muslin and tarlatan resumed 
their former place in female attire. Past periods were called upon 
for their fashions, either successively or together. Costumes of a 

s 2 


composite order, If I may borrow an architectural term, were 

The hair continued to be dressed high, and frizzed or waved 
over the forehead. Ringlets at the back of the head went out 
of fashion ; only a couple of curls were allowed to stray on 
the neck. We may mention the " Swiss " style of head-dress 
as something new. It consisted of two long plaits hanging 
behind, and ending in a curl, above which was tied a narrow 

False Kair was worn more generally than ever. We learn from 
some interesting and curious statistics that 51,816 kilogrammes of 
false hair were sold in France in 1871 ; 85,959 in 1S72; and 
102,900 in 1873. These figures were probably surpassed in 1874 
and the succeeding years. 

The hair is chiefly procured from Normandy, Auvergne, and 
Brittany. Halrcutters whose special business is the collecting of 
it, procure it in April and May. They give in exchange coloured 
prints, muslin, and calico, or they pay for it in money at five 
francs the kilogramme. 

W^ho could have thought, at an earlier period, that the trade in 
hair could have become so greatly developed in France ? 

During the winter, ladies principally aimed at warmth, and 
replaced the classic waterproof by a circular cloak of silk, lined 
with flannel or with fur, and slightly wadded. The furs most 
commonly used, besides squirrel and Russian wild cat, were otter 
and Russian fox. 

The Chamber of Commerce in Paris gave a ball in honour 
of Marshal MacMahon, the second President of the Republic, 
at which thousands of fairy-like costumes were all the more 
admired because they had been so long unseen at official receptions. 
Few dresses came unhurt out of the palace on that occasion ; the 
dust was stifling, the crowd overwhelming, and the pushing most 

In the spring of 1874, tunics were succeeded by a sort of 
peplum, cut in one piece with the bodice, and forming basques at 
the back. 


. Ladies wore " merveilleuse " hats in jet lace, one side turned 
up, with a bunch of flowers. 

Green was the favourite colour for gowns — verdegris, mignonette, 
frog-green, bottle-green, canary-green, sage-green, &c., &c. 

This reminds us of an historical incident in the reign of Henri 
III., on the occasion of a banquet given by that king to some 
gentlemen who had accompanied him to the siege of La 
Charite. " The ladies," says Pierre I'Estoile, " were all dressed 
in green ; and all the guests were likewise in green, for which 
cause, 60,000 francs worth of green silk had been obtained from 

But to return to 1874. Green did not in that year create any 
great excitement in trade ; but jet was so extensively used, that the 
efFect was similar to that produced by the rage for green silk 
under Henri IIL In the course of a few months, several bead 
manufacturers at Venice made immense sums of money. The 
foreign manufacturers who supplied our French ladies with jet 
beads are at the present day millionnaires. 

Together with the " merveilleuse " hat, the " incroyable " 
bodice came into fashion. The latter opened over a waistcoat 
fastened by handsome fancy buttons. The top was trimmed with 
a ruching lined with lilac ; the sleeves were in three pieces, with 
embroidered bands between. 

Generally speaking, costumes were made in shades of one colour, 
rather than in contrasting colours. 

Pelted boots for ladies were introduced. This fashion probably 
originated on the turf, but the boots were practically useless, 
except for travelling. 

Foulard was the favourite material for gowns, and the delightful 
Hungarian or Croatian paletot was universally adopted. This was 
trimmed with glass beads and frogs, and the shape was exquisitely 
becoming to the figure, while the long flowing sleeves lent grace 
to the least graceful. 

Some women of the highest rank favoured an extraordinary 
costume called the " sheath " or " cloche." They enveloped 
themselves in a garment which fitted closely to the whole body, 


This whim was adopted only by a few, because it was not 

A great deal of trimming was worn on beige, mohair, tussore, 
alpaca, and ecru foulard gowns. 

False hair went out of fashion, and was succeeded by the 
" knocker " or " Catogan " style. Instead of being frizzed and 
twisted in every direction, the hair was gathered together at the 
back of the head in a loose wide plait, and looped on the nape of 
the neck with a ribbon bow. 

Several new bonnet shapes were introduced during the summer, 
viz. the "Trianon," the "Elizabeth," the " Charlotte Corday," 
the "sailor hat," the "shepherdess," the " Bersagliere," the 
" Bandoulier," the " Fra Diavolo," the "Orpheus," and others. 
At the seaside the " Mercury " hat was popular; it was a sort of 
" toquet," with two wings in the front, springing from an Alsatian 
bow, and the crown turned up at the back under a Catogan bow, 
in which was fastened a poppy, or a large " Reine Marguerite " or 
ox-eyed daisy. 

In the autumn, the polonaise was succeeded by the tunic. 
Beaded, shining trimmings became more fashionable than ever. 
Open or flat collars took the place of frills. A small gold pencil- 
case was worn hanging from the watch chain. 


B ^ 


ff) CO 




O C£3 

^ oO 


1S75 TO 1878. 

Dinner, casino, and ball dresses in 1875— Importation of false liair — Manufacture in France 
— Modification of waterproofs — "Estelle" bonnets — Tunic aprons — Cuirass bodices^ 
"Montespan" sleeves — "Saut-du-Iit" — Shoes of past times — " Bonnes-femmes " pockets 
— Henri III. plumes — "Inez" veils — Ribbons and flowers — Heavy style of dress — 
" Pouf" petticoats — Composite fashions of 1876 — Armenian toques ; " Ophelia " bon- 
nets ; " Danichef " bonnets — Mdlle. Bettina Rothschild's wedding trousseau — A splendid 
parasol — Gondolier hair-nets — "Baby" sashes and "baby" bonnets— "Fontanges" 
fichus — Platitudes — Red, as a colour — Pockets of various kinds — A majestic appen- 
dage — Princess dresses — Bouquets on the bodices — Hair dressed in the Greek style — A 
thousand curls — Breton style — Organ- pipe frills— Coat bodices— Trinkets in black and 

We have now reached the fashions of the present day, that is, the 
fashions that have prevailed from 1875 to 188 i. 

It will be well to divide this period into two parts, the first 
extending from 1875 t° ^^7^) the second from 1878 to 1881. 

What were the costumes worn at a dinner, casino, or ball 
in 1875 ? 

We will describe a lady's gown made of sky blue Italian silk. 
The front of the skirt was trimmed with five flounces of antique 
lace, above which were full ruchings in two shades of blue, one 
shade being the same as that of the skirt, and the other rather 
darker. The upper skirt, widely open in front in order to display 
the splendid petticoat, formed an ample train at the back. A 
lace scarf fell gracefully over the folds of the costume. The edge 
of the tunic was trimmed with antique lace and ruchings. The 
bodice was cut low and square ; the sleeves consisted entirely of 
ruchings and narrow lace, and reached to the elbow, where they 
were trimmed with two deep falls of lace — a most becoming finish. 


The hair was dressed high with a Spanish comb, ribbons, and 

We may mention here a curious fact that appears in the 
published accounts of the trade of Marseilles during the year 1875. 
75,000 kilogrammes of hair, from the several countries of Asia 
Minor, Egypt, Hindostan, China, Italy, and Spain, entered France 
through that port. Formerly, as we have already stated, Brittany 
and Normandy supplied us with this article of commerce. 

The manufacture of false hair in France amounted in 1875 to 
130,000 kilogrammes, and was insufficient to supply the demands 
of fashion. The street-sweepings of hair, collected by the 
scavengers, were used for making luxuriant tresses of all lengths 
and all shades — blond, red, black, or brown. 

Beaded and shining trimmings were very handsome, and much 
admired. Some were of totally new design, and were even 
preferred to lace. 

In woollen fabrics, and with the exception of serge and limousine, 
women preferred " chine " fancy mixtures, or striped materials of 
two shades. 

Steel was again fashionable. Stomachers, berthes, and " Louis 
XV. casaques " were much worn ; and the waterproof, so long the 
very tomb of elegance and grace, but the most convenient of 
garments, underwent such improved "treatment," that no woman, 
old or young, need any longer object to shelter herself beneath it. 

White bonnets, that had been absolutely proscribed for many 
years, came into fashion again for visiting dress. The " Estelle " 
bonnet was in cream felt, or in stiff white tulle, edged with 
white jet. 

An expensive checked material, which cost fifteen to eighteen 
francs the yard, was used for gowns ; and with these were worn 
apron tunics ii: Scotch plaid, and small " Louis XIII." waistcoats 
with pockets. " Flora " bonnets in beige chip of two shades ; 
"Chevalier" bonnets made of jet; "Trianon" bonnets in black 
chip, with a double bordering of Italian straw; and, lastly, maroon 
straw bonnets trimmed with showy " Francois I." ribbon, were 
among the favourite shapes. Some of these bonnets looked like 


real flower-beds, with their harmoniously blended heath, clematis^ 
poppies, and daisies. 

Cuirass bodices did not long remain in favour ; they were 
succeeded by bodices with straight waistbands, and armour bodices 
cut low and square, and laced at the back. These bodices were 
embroidered, and edged with Mechlin lace. 

" Montespan " sleeves were worn as a reminiscence of the seven- 
teenth century ; the material of which they were made was 
embroidered, and they ended at the elbow in two deep falls of 
Mechhii lace, with frills of crape lisse on the inside. 

At home, ladies wore muslin " peignoirs " of a shape called 
"mobile ;" or " saut-du-lit " (jump out of bed), an equally becom- 
ing garment, in fine nansook. 

For morning dress they selected "Samoyede," or polar cloth; 
" Livonienne," or snow-flaked or gravelled cloth. Costumes made 
of these were trimmed with a wide braid to match, or with a band 
of velvet, and the skirts were trimmed apron-fashion in front. 
This was a step towards the revival of plain dresses. 

Among other evolutions of fashion in 1875, the change in shoes 
was noticeable. Those shoes " a la poulaine," which I described 
when treating of the Middle Ages, were partially imitated by the 
new mode. Up to this time shoes had been made square at the 
toes ; they were now made pointed ; and some boots were made 
with the points curling upwards, in the same ridiculous fashion as 
under the Valois. 

This retrospective caprice did not, fortunately, last long. 

Gowns continued to be made with trains, with tight-fitting 
basques, and with large pockets called " ridicules," "aumonieres," 
and " bonnes-femmes." A muslin flounce was placed inside the 
bottom of the skirt, coming a little below it ; and the " balayeuse," 
as it was called, frequently excited the mirth of the passers-by in 
the streets. 

Polonaises came in once more. They were made of dolgai, a 
warm, soft, thick, woollen material of a dull shade. Linen collars 
and cufl^s, hem-stitched ; kid boots, and beaver gloves were 
fashionable. Velvet-cloth mantles trimmed with monkey skin. 


and black velvet semi-tight paletots edged with skunk, were much 

A small bunch of yellow and white carnations, or of real 
rose-buds, was attached on one side of the bodice. Our French 
ladies wore necklaces of pearls and sapphires, and six-buttoned 

A long, black, Henri III. plume was sometimes seen on 
bonnets ; and bodices were made more and more in the style of 
the Middle Ages, until they strongly resembled the "corps 
piques" of the time of Charles IX. "Inez" veils of Spanish 
blond, or of tulle trimmed with lace, and worn mantilla-fashion, 
afforded protection against the variations of climate. Some of 
the bonnets, made in the style of the Directory, were charming in 
shape ; others were trimmed with figured silk of two shades, or 
of two colours mixed. 

Fashions were borrowed from every period of French history. 
There were few original inventions, but many "reproductions," to 
borrow a theatrical term. 

Ribbon was profusely used to ornament dresses ; " Renaissance " 
ribbons, "armure" ribbons, "surah" ribbons and braid, &c. Some 
of these were both plain and brocaded in jewel designs, and 
were so beautiful, that for a time they held supreme sway. The 
flowers, also, with which bonnets were loaded, were perfect 
imitations of nature; so much so, that the bonnets of 1875 may 
be regarded as masterpieces of art, and not only as reminiscences 
of the past. 

Full-dress gowns had trains made with " Bulgarian" plaits, and 
bodices laced or buttoned at the back, so as to display the shape 
of the bust as defined by the cuirass. These dresses were trimmed 
with open-work embroidery, white guipure lace, and Russian lace. 
" Mikado," a very soft pale grey woollen mixture, slightly touched 
with black, obtained an extraordinary success. 

Small Louis XIV. shoes, with two rosettes or puffs of ribbon, 
matched the costume. They reminded us of Mme. de Scvigne's 
letter to her daughter on sending her a pair of shoes of this kind. 
" I must inform you," she wrote, " that you are not to walk in 


your new shoes," What an illustration of the saying: " II faut 
soufFrir pour etre belle." 

Gold and silver braid was extensively manufactured. Mantles 
were trimmed with several rows of narrow silver braid ; the buttons 
were very large, and of the same material as the garmeiit ; in the 
centre of each was a little design in filagree representing a lily or a 
small bell-flower. Buckles were also used in all full-dress costumes. 

A heavy, rich, and handsome style of dress in damask, brocaded 
silk, or stamped velvet, was adopted in Paris and other great 
centres ; yet more moderate costumes in neutral tints kept their 
place, the most fashionable of all dark materials being a reddish 
violet, bistre, mixed with black, and, above all, dark blue. 

"Pouf" petticoats, or narrow dress-improvers, were made long 
enough to support the heavy folds of the gown. 

In conclusion, it may be said that the long trains, the ornamented 
sleeves, and the tig-ht bodices that combined reminiscences of the 
Middle Ages with the requirements of modern fashion, were 
principally remarkable for their details of all sorts — twists, fanciful 
arrangements, knots, bows, fringes, gold and silver braid, artistically 
carved buttons, and beautiful fur. 

From the commencement of the year 1876, fashion became 
more and more of the composite order. Styles of every period 
were successfully blended. That of the reign of Henri II. was 
resorted to first. Gowns were made of sumptuous materials 
trimmed with Venice point, and with long trains. Figured silks, 
satin brocades in Arabesque designs, or flowers and foliage, were used 
for feminine attire, and looked to the full as splendid as the dresses 
of former times. Among head-dresses, the "Armenian toque" 
was very fashionable ; then came the " Ophelia " bonnet in black 
lace, with two wreaths of rosebuds ; and the " Danichet," in beaded 
black net, taken from the bonnet worn by one of the actresses in 
a play of that name, which was performed at the Odcon for more 
than a hundred successive nights. 

The fashionable world was at that time greatly interested in 
the splendid wedding of Mdlle. Bettina Rothschild, which was 
described at length in all the newspapers. The trousseau included 


under-garments worth 200,000 francs. The pocket-handkerchiefs 
were perfect marvels of needlework and Alen^on and Mechlin 
lace. There were several magnificent cashmere shawls. Among 
the dozen and a half parasols, there was one deserving of particular 
mention. It was made of rose-coloured silk, shaded with white 
gauze, and again covered with point lace ; the point was a cluster 
of emeralds and brilliants, and the handle was of jade, thickly 
encrusted with similar precious stones. A gold ring set with 
emeralds and brilliants was used to close this truly Oriental toy. 
The numerous fans comprised in the trousseau had been painted 
by our best artists. 

I should need several pages for the bare enumeration of the 
contents of this young lady's jewel-case. I shall therefore content 
myself with naming a microscopic watch set in a solid piece of 
coral, with a chatelaine hook, and a triple gold chain, the hook 
bearing a baron's coronet, marvellously carved, surmounting the 
combined initials of the wealth-laden young couple. 

I have digressed, I admit; but the digression is not out of place 
in a History of Fashion, for it proves that magnificent dress is as 
much appreciated under a Republic as under a Monarchy. 

Moreover, at the period of Mdlle. Bettina Rothschild's marriage, 
luxury had reached the highest possible development. Never had 
more splendid textures been seen, and never had dressmaking been 
more ruinously expensive. A few young matrons belonging to the 
aristocracy announced their intention of opposing such excess in 
dress, but their project of returning to simpler fashions failed of 
realization, and they soon found themselves obliged, willingly or 
unwillingly, to float with the stream that was bearing them away. 

At the Grand Prix de Paris, the leaders of fashion carried large 
carob-coloured sunshades, either plain or trimmed with cream lace, 
and shortly afterwards " caroubier " was quite the favourite colour. 
This deep red was worn in neckties, bonnets, and costumes, and 
combined with black, white, grey, or blue. But this fancy, like so 
many others, soon passed away. 

Even in summer ladies wore large quantities of hair, stuffed Into 
a wide-meshed net called a " Gondolier," which hung over their 


neck and shoulders. This net was made of silk braid, and 
ornamented with two "Catogan" bows, one in front and one 

A novelty of this period deserves special notice. It consisted of 
long gloves of open-work China silk in all colours, of extraordinary 
fineness and elasticity, fitting to perfection. Another novelty, the 
" Baby " sash, worn round the waist and tied behind, was a fashion 
borrowed from little girls, whose " Baby " drawn bonnets and low 
shoes had already been copied by their elders. 

The hair was dressed " a la Recamier," that is, curled all round ; 
or in small rough curls like a poodle dog's ; or hanging over the 
forehead in a fringe as far as the eyes, with a large chignon behind, 
and heavy Catogan bows. 

Veils, whose real use is to protect the complexion from the sun, 
were worn tightly clinging to the face. They were stretched in 
folds over the forehead; this was to use the veil Egyptian- 

Fans, which were in greater demand than ever, were suspended 
to one end of a silk girdle that was fastened with a slip knot round 
the waist, at the other end was a large silk tassel. 

" Fontanges " fichus in chenille fringe were an improvement on 
the small knitted shawls that had been loosely thrown over the 

No change of any importance took place in costume. Gowns 
were still made to fit closely over the front and sides of the figure, 
and to drag at the knees, and even lower down. They resembled 
sheaths of the exact shape of the body. Flat braid trimmings 
were still much used, and were wittily called "platitudes." Skirts 
were trimmed with wreaths of leaves and flowers, many bodices 
were made of brocade, and many sleeves in the " Louis XV." style, 
with under-sleeves of crape lisss. 

Among accessories I must not forget "dog-collars" In ribbon 
or quilled velvet, the edges bordered with narrow tulle illusion or 

Bonnets were very various in shape and trimming. Some very 
elegant women wore "jugulars " in feathers or fur, instead of 


bonnet strings. A few bonnets were not unlike the leaning tower 
of Pisa. 

Cashmere shawls regained their place. They were draped in 
the old classic way ; the bust being enveloped in soft folds, while 
the amplitude of the rest of the figure was, as is always the case, 

It is my duty as a scrupulous historian to note the predominance 
of "cardinal" or " carob " red in the costumes of 1876. Red 
sunshades, red feathers, and red frocks abounded everywhere. 
This caprice could not be enduring, and we must acknowledge 
that it soon passed away, to the great advantage of real elegance 
in dress. Light shades took the place of red, and also of dark 
blue. The most fashionable summer materials were jaconets with 
pink, pale blue, grey, and lime-tree coloured stripes, trimmed with 
Irish lace, thread fringe matching the gown, or killings and bias 
pieces of the stuff itself. 

Walking dresses were made with simplicity and good taste. 
Mantles were large and long, and on the approach of autumn 
were made with wide " Mandarin " sleeves. Polonaises in light 
woollen materials, with velvet sleeves, were also fashionable ; and 
ail woollen textures were in high favour. There was incredible 
variety in the shape of pockets ; besides those of which I have 
already spoken, there were "cornets," " hottes," and "corniers," 
all elegant articles of attire, beautifully made and embroidered, 
and fixed in various ways on the skirt. 

Faille and brocades of different shades were used for full dress. 
Gowns were so tight, and so much " tied back," that they almost 
impeded movement ; the knees were encircled with garlands of 
flowers or buds. These flowers were succeeded by foliage, and 
there were more "Velledas" than "Floras" among our women 
of fashion, as was remarked by a clever journalist of the day. 
Metal buttons, at first enormously large, and afterwards reduced 
in size, and sometimes shaped like grelots (sledge bells), were 
used to ornament the costume. Skunk and Siberian fox took the 
place of Swedish and Canadian furs, temporarily out of fashion, 
while costly sable was worn by ladies of extreme elegance. A 


pelisse lined with sable is like a costly piece of furniture, or a 
precious jewel ; its value is not affected by any caprice of the day. 

Breton lace was used in morning dress, and this charming 
novelty looked extremely well with the cascades of coloured ribbon 
that were so generally worn. 

To bring this short review of the year 1876 to a conclusion, I 
must state that the type of costume was little altered ; the only 
change was in trimmings, or in the greater or less length of trains. 
Costumes consisted principally of a scaffolding of flounces, fringes, 
and kiltings, without the great trailing mass that had long been a 
result of wide skirts. Trains became positive tails ; but they no 
longer interfered with the free action of the limbs, and developed 
into what might be termed a majestic appendage. 

Morning caps were made of w^hlte or coloured foulard hand- 
kerchiefs twisted like a Mamamouchi turban, and ornamented with 
a little bunch of mignonette, with a pale rose in the centre. 
There was something both sentimental and artistic about these caps. 

But even when the same style of dress lasts from one year to 
another, or for several years, there is an absolute necessity for 
many variations of type ; otherwise we should cease to be ruled by 
caprice, which, as we know, will never abdicate its power. 

In January, 1877, princess gowns were still in fashion, the 
princess shape being preferred to all others, both for morning and 
evening wear. In the latter case, they were made high behind, 
and either cut low and square, or in a V shape in front, and with 
sleeves to the elbow only. The bodice and skirt of princess 
gowns were cut from one piece, but the skirt was ornamented with 
fringes, sashes, and bows, or it was worn over another and longer 

Many mantles were made of the same material as the dress, 
and many were black. 

Bouquets of small delicate roses were worn on the bodice, one at 
the breast, and the other just below the shoulder. Bonnets were 
chosen, as far as possible, to match the rest of the dress. Some 
women wore their hair in the Greek fashion, bound with three 
blue fillets, and a little fringe of loose curls on the forehead. 


Towards March a decided change took place in the shape of 
costumes, and women looked like walking statues, clad in drapery 
that adhered as closely to the front and sides of the figure as a 
wet bathing-gown, while it was gathered into a bunch at the back. 
The portion of the skirt that formed the apron hung flat, but 
the rest was gathered in soft folds towards the back of the 
train. The bodice, whether cuirassed or not, assumed reasonable 

The ungraceful costumes copied from those of the First Empire 
were at length about to disappear! 

Muslin kiltings were once more restored to favour. The hair 
was dressed in the " thousand curls " of which Mme. de Sevigne 
speaks, giving the head a round shape, which admitted of no orna- 
ment save a flower on one side. This was a becoming style in 
many instances. 

For ordinary wear, costumes in the Breton style were largely 
adopted ; and also a costume in fawn-coloured Scotch cashmere, 
with a plain, short skirt, a tunic flat in front, but not drawn tight; 
the plastron, or stomacher, consisted of a wide embroidered band. 
With this costume two square pockets, one on either side, trimmed 
at two-thirds of their depth with three rows of narrow braid, were 
worn. The attire was completed by embroidered or open-worked 
linen collars and cuffs, and a cravat-bow of foulard, embroidered 
muslin, or plush ribbon, placed at the opening of the collar. 

Some of our " elegantes " seemed determined to rival Henri 
Regnault's " Salome," on the pretext that yellow was a fashionable 

Large turn-down collars were revived; some were plainly 
stitched, and were wide and rounded in the back ; others, for 
instance, the " Artagnan " and " Richelieu," were made of antique 
guipure ; and others, again, of Renaissance lace — but all of them 
were very wide in the back. 

Cuffs were worn on the sleeve itself, instead of on the arm. 

The "blouse'' gown, with full bodice and belt and buckle, 
was revived, with the addition of a second skirt. This costume 
was made in Oxford cloth, or light woollen textures, in foulard. 


or in Irish cambric. Tussore also became fashionable again on 
account of the delicacy of its folds. 

A new way of wearing a watch, fastened on the breast 
like a decoration, was adopted by ladies of fashion. This only 
applied, of course, to the smallest watches, those of the diameter 
of a twenty-franc piece, and which were usually emblazoned with 
the coat of arms. 

Sunshades in plaid silk succeeded to red or yellow ones. 
Coloured glass beads were manufactured for trimming costumes ; 
" Perichole " and " Fleur de The " bonnets were much worn ; also 
Japanese hats lined with red silk, and trimmed with flowers 
or fruit on the brim. Dust-coloured fans were used. China 
crape was no longer despised, and Indian shawls remained in 
favour ; lace was worn in profusion on every article of attire. 

" Louis XIII.," " Louis XIV.," and " Louis XV." costumes, 
"Charles IX." collars, "Henri IV." ruiFs, Marie-Antoinette, and 
"Directory" fichus, "Adelaide" collars of worked organdy 
muslin, trimmed with Valenciennes, — all these things were adopted 
by Fashion, which, while it progressed with the times, made use of 
every style of dress belonging to the past. 

I must not omit to mention tulle-ruchings called " organ-pipes," 
placed on the front of -the skirt ; white satin shoes with " Louis 
XV." heels; " Rubens" hats copied from those which we see in 
the portraits of that great master of the Flemish school, and some 
few hats in Russia leather; "Gabrielle" cuffs, and "Mousquetaire" 
collars, large cloaks lined and edged with fur; and lastly the 
" Pierrot " collars and cuffs, in plaited muslin, trimmed with 
Valenciennes, and fastened with bows of ribbon alike on both 

Gold and silver braid were quite out of fashion, and had 
been succeeded by trimmings of chenille or of stamped and 
cut-out velvet, sometimes placed on the edge of the garment and 
sometimes diagonally. Egyptian veils were very popular, and 
were, in Eastern fashion, crossed at the back, and tied in front. 
Sometimes they were tied in a large bow, framing the face very 
becomingly. It was considered good style to arrange the hair at 



the back, " Icnocker-wise," or in graduated waves ; the hat was 
placed on the top, and this fashion was both coquettish and 
extremely convenient. 

The bonnet-strings, or "jugulars," in fur, chenille, or plaited 
ribbon, that had been so fashionable in the winter of 1876-7, were 
succeeded by strings of flowers. 

On the whole, womens' garments were less narrow ; and the 
excessively chnging "sheath" dresses disappeared. This was a 
great gain to freedom of movement and grace, for feminine attire 
should not sharply reveal the female form, but only indicate it. 
The charm of mystery ought to be retained, and the too much or 
too little of substance should be carefully concealed. 

There was an obvious tendency towards greater simplicity in 
dressing the hair, enormous quantities of false hair being no longer 
worn, as they would have been out of harmony with the rest of 
the dress. The hair was sometimes divided in a slanting direction ; 
or on the forehead with a second parting from ear to ear ; or it 
was drawn back, Chinese fashion, and then divided into two loose 
twists crossed one over the other, and arranged something 
like a helmet above the forehead ; or in rings on the forehead. 
Every style was admissible — plaits, curls, and straight or waved 

In like manner, bonnets were worn of very difFerent shapes — 
in coloured straw, or chip, and trimmed with roses, azaleas, 
eglantine, and rose-buds. The " plate"-bonnet was rather popular, 
as were also small bonnets in Belgian straw. I am now speaking 
of summer bonnets. 

Feather aigrettes came once more into fashion. 
The favourite textures were " Milan moss " and "swan's down." 
The favourite ribbon was that in the new colour called " pink- 
coral." Light-coloured belts, with gilt and inlaid buckles, and 
harmonizing with the colour of the dress, were very much worn. 
Jewellery was restricted to a simple bracelet, a " porte-bonheur," 
a locket, studs in the ears, and a white fan suspended to the wrist 
by a pink ribbon. A few ladies took to wearing Japanese trinkets. 
Long Swedish gloves with at least four or six buttons, and 


"Charles IX.," " Moiiere," "Victoria," and "Richelieu" shoes 
were adopted. 

At the approach of winter, gowns and mantles were trimmed 
with fur : blue fox, marten, and sable were preferred ; chinchilla 
and Astrakan came next in order. " Coat-bodices " partially- 
revived the fashions of Louis XIII. and Louis XIV. ; they were 
worn with long waistcoats, embroidery, cascades of lace, and 
gold braid. Plaited chemisettes fastening behind, were generally 
worn with square- cut bodices; also pocket-handkerchiefs in clear 
cambric and " Fritz" fichus. ■ . 

The " La Valliere " cravat was succeeded- by a longer one with 
square ends, and by the " Malesherbe " in silk guipure, or in 
guipure and grenadine. Nickel and strass buckles were extremely 
fashionable, and looked remarkably well with corded silk belts. 

Dress stuffs had curious designations in the year 1877. For 
instance, " ventre-saint-gris," a woollen texture with long rough 
hairy surface, in two shades of grey and green ; " mousse-des-bois," 
(wood moss); " frise " (curled) " Malabar ;" " frimas," a speckled 
material ; " chenille velvet," and " myosotis," a mixture of wool 
and silk, speckled in two shades of blue, and in gold-colour. 
English velveteen now seemed to have reached its zenith of 

I must note the very handsome muffs that made their appear- 
ance about the end of November. They were of small size, and 
made of cloth, velvet, or satin, lined and bordered with fur, and 
ornamented with a large ribbon bow. They were transformed 
into scent-sachets, perfumed with essences of heliotrope, rose, and 

A manufacturer of fans invented a fan composed of real flowers 
and leaves ; but it was not a success, on account of the extreme 
fragility of such an article. Fans were then made of artificial 
flowers ; but these too were a failure, for they sinned against good 
taste. And both were far inferior to mother-of-pearl, tortoise- 
shell, and ivory fans, either beautifully painted or trimmed with 

Costumes, bonnets, and mantles, were designated by Russian 

T 2 


names, doubtless on account of the war that had just broken out 
between Russia and Turkey. Otter-skin, fur, and plush hats 
were much worn. Flowers were "out," but feathers were "in," 
and the plumage of the " impeyan"," the owl, the golden ouzel, 
and the gorgeous breast of the pheasant, were profusely employed. 
Jewelled ornaments were worn on bonnets, and double-headed pins 
in jet, gold, or pearl. "Sita" veils, and veils of mohair lace, 
with white and black shawls, mantles, " Marie-Antoinettes," and 
elegantly contrived headkerchiefs, served to shield the fair wearers 
from the cold winds of winter. 

In December, a novelty made its appearance in the shape of 
ornaments, in black silver. These did not detract, however, from 
the value of coral, which became more and more fashionable 
every day, from that of old silver, filagree, or, especially, the 
old jewels, whether simple or rich, of past eras. 

[i, CO 

.^ — ■ 








187S TO iSSl. 

The International Exliibition of 1878 — Foreign countries — Japanese fans — The little lace- 
makers of Peniche — Retrospective Exhibition of costume in F.-ance — " Considerations sur 
le vetement des femmes," by M. Charles Blanc — Historical Exhibition at the Trocadero — 
Comprehensive glance at the curiosities of that Exhibition — "The movement " in 1879 
— " Merveilleuse," " Niniche," and other bonnets — Plush — Gown-stuff at 100 francs the 
yard — Scarfs, casaques, and various bodices — Madras costumes — Under-clothing ; chemise- 
corsets, morning-gowns — " Housewife" fans ; fan-holders — Trinkets — New materials — 
Visites ; jackets ; bows ; neckties^The year 1S80— " Cabriolet " bonnets ; " passe- 
montagnes " — The pilgrim costume — Satins — Favourite colours — Vests — Art buttons — 
Bulgarian costumes — ^Jei-seys — Scented gloves — Flowers in profusion ; a bridal bouquet 
— Midshipman bonnets— Nordcnskiold — Dust-cloaks — Revolution in bonnets — Art and 
fashion — " Porte- veines. " 

We cannot doubt that the year 1878 will be famous in the 
long annals of Fashion, on account of the International and special 
Exhibitions that filled Paris with visitors from all parts of the 
world. In like manner, every civilized country deluged us with 
fanciful inventions, and with extraordinary ideas, that have for the 
most part vanished. 

The galleries devoted to clothing were not less remarkable than 
those set aside for other industrial products, and yet the public 
soon wearied of them. They were so spacious, not to say 
encumbered ; and then the attractions of the shop windows were 
as great as those of the galleries. 

Some few however were popular. The cases of Lyons silks, 
St. Etienne ribbons, Tarara muslins, stuffs of Roubaix, Rouen, 
and Paris manufacture ; and the charming Swiss pavilion, with its 
exquisitely arranged curtains, lace, tulle, embroidery, and trimmings, 
are not yet forgotten. The national costumes brought to Paris 
from the uttermost ends of the earth — from Lapland to the Cape 


of Good Hope, from Oceania to the western extremity of 
Europe — excited a good deal of interest. 

Every accessory of dress was at hand for the purposes of 
comparison by lady connoisseurs. .The East set before us its 
perfumes, coffers, shawls, tissues, and knick-knacks of all sorts, 
including the hinged fans, a Japanese invention, said to have been 
suggested by the wings of the bat. America displayed her 
products, remarkable rather for comfort than elegance ; Africa, 
her garments dating from the most distant ages, and Europe 
showed us her undeniable superiority, her marvellous progress, 
and her new inventions, which, whether practical or not, are 
generally at least ingenious. I must except, as regards clothes, 
both Italy and Holland, while Russia was hardly remarkable 
except for her furs. 

The manufacturers of lace in Portugal are treading in the steps 
of the English past-masters in that line, and are attaining the 
highest degree of excellence. The lace-workers lead a curious 
life. At Peniche, in Estramadura, there are eight schools of 
lace work. Little girls sometimes begin to learn at the age of 
four, and soon acquire such skill that they can handle fifty dozen 
spindles at a time, and yet pay attention to things quite apart 
from their habitual work. 

Spanish gloves are even superior to those of Paris ; but Spanish 
fans, although articles of such constant use on the far side of the 
Pyrenees, fail both in design and execution. 

We must do justice to Greece, which now possesses numerous 
factories. The Greek hand-made coloured Oriental lace, is very 
pretty, and the national costumes charmed the eyes of all visitors 
to the Palace in the Champs de Mars. Unfortunately those 
splendid gold-embroidered garments are fast disappearing. 
Neither the king nor queen of Greece wear them at the present 
day. European fashions have usurped their place. 

The subject of the International Exhibition of 1878, has already 
been exhausted ; I could only add a few Insignificant pages to the 
voluminous writings of other authors, who have described it; and 
I should besides be exceeding the limits of my subject. Hardly 


had the portals of the building in the Champs de Mars been 
closed, when manufacturers were already inventing fresh novelties, 
which will be offered for our inspection at the next Great 

The Exhibition of 1878 is now of historical value only. It 
was a great advance on preceding Exhibitions, and, according to 
the laws of human progress, will be surpassed by those of the 

Before 1878 however, and while I was occupied In writing the 
present work, some artists and other intelligent men had 
organized a Retrospective Exhibition of costumes in France, in 
the building of the Champs Elysees. 

This was far from being an exhaustive exhibition, for it did not 
include the earlier ages of our history, nevertheless, curiosities 
that had hitherto been hidden away in private coUections became 
know to the public, and were of special interest because they 
afforded specimens of several branches of the ancient manufactures 
of France. 

That exhibition was a fragment of the history of Fashion In 
concrete form, if I may so express myself, and many of those who 
inspected it were of opinion that it was a tempting subject for a 

On the other hand, M. Charles Blanc included In his important 
work on Decorative Art, published by the " Gazette des Beaux- 
Arts," some very valuable remarks on feminine clothing, under the 
title of " Considerations sur le vetement des femmes ;" for these 
maintained that the three invariable conditions of beauty are 
order, proportion, and harmony, whatever may be the variety of 

The learned academician raised coquetry to the height of a true 
art ; he treated of the esthetics of Fashion, and pointed out its 
constituent laws. 

The public, whose attention was thus directed to the subject of 
the present work, was more alive than formerly to its Importance, 
and seemed favourably disposed towards our undertaking. 

In 1878, there was an Historical Exhibition at the Trocadero. 


Antique garments of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, 
and of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, were exhibited, 
not as curiosities only, but as subjects for study. 

The show-cases of MM. Tassinari and Chatel, of Lyons, 
contained fine tapestries, chasubles, copes, women's hoods, and a 
large assortment of Eastern fabrics. Five or six amateurs 
exhibited collections of dress ornaments, — bracelets, rings, pins, 
broaches, earrings, &c. There was a prettily-dressed doll, in the 
complete costume of a young girl in the time of the Medicis ; 
several anticjue bag and purse clasps ; carved, gilded, and chased 
betrothal rings and perfume boxes ; marriage caskets ; women's 
hawking-gauntlets in chased steel ; exquisite fans ; diamonds in 
settings of old silver ; curious Norman trinkets ; patch-boxes 
ornamented with miniatures ; bon-bon boxes ; and needle-cases. 

Several pieces of stuffs from Equatorial Egypt, and quantities of 
ancient Egyptian jewellery, with a few valuable ornaments dating 
from the time of the Caliphs, were worthy of careful examination, 
and might have roused the emulation of our modern workmen. 

The Scandinavian Ethnological Museum of Stockholm, for- 
warded a series of costumes remarkable for accuracy ; almost all 
of these had been composed in the year 1820, or thereabouts: 
these curious specimens obtained a great and deserved success. 

When the time arrived for closing all these exhibitions, and 
the French and foreign exhibitors had removed their goods, 
there remained an enduring recollection of the marvels of the 
Trocadero and the Champs de Mars. 

After that time, exclusively national Fashion resumed its 
customary course. A great incentive had been given by the 
numerous and distinguished awards conferred on our manufacturers. 
Novelties of all sorts were produced, and spread throughout Paris, 
France, Europe, and beyond the seas. Our milliners sent their 
goods to the International Exhibitions at Sydney and Melbourne. 
Their superiority and originality were admitted on all hands. 

Meanwhile, savings had been almost or entirely expended, and 
in 1879 a diminution of outlay on dress resulted from the extra 
expenditure of the preceding year. 


" Merveilleuse " bonnets, which, being indicated by their name 
need no description from me; " Madrilene " bonnets, made of 
otter, or plush, trimmed with jet ; and Swedish bonnets in black 
kid, with an amber-headed pin, partly concealed in a tuft of 
feathers, or stuck through a velvet bow, were equally fashionable. 

Many bonnets were entirely composed of leaves, flowers, or 
fruits. There were infinite varieties of bonnets and hats, some 
close, others with wide brims, some very small, and some very 
large. " Frondeuse " hats, were of black straw, with long black 
and ruby plumes, the brim turned up, and lined with puckered 
ruby satin, trimmed with gold lace. " Niniche " and " Directory " 
bonnets were lasting favourites, and more generally popular than 
their merits would appear to warrant. 

During the summer, round bell-shaped hatswereat first preferred. 
Then close bonnets without strings, cottage bonnets in smooth 
straw, coming down very much on the forehead; " Nerine " hats 
of coarse white straw, and with wide brims lined with red satin ; 
and many others, differing little from those I have just named. 

Plush was worn as trimming on gowns and mantles. Short 
dresses were much worn ; they were invariably trimmed with 
cascades of lace. Silk stockings were indispensable. Bows and 
cravats of muslin, or Breton lace, or Valenciennes, or point, were 
greatly used. Gloves with four buttons, and "dowager" sun- 
shades—so called because they were rather large and made with 
long sticks — were quite a rage for several months. " Bonhomme," 
"Jardinier Galant," "Louis XIV.," and "Louis XV." vests, 
formed a part of nearly every costume. " Charles IX.," " Marion 
Delorme," and "Richelieu" shoes were made with high heels 
like boots. 

In order to give some idea of the cost of certain materials, it 
will suffice to state that an actress at the Vaudeville theatre wore 
a gown at a hundred francs the yard, and the rest in proportion. 
Gowns were made of gold tissue and trimmed with lace, em- 
broidered in colours. 

Scarfs or drapery were fashionable for trimming dresses, and 
skirts were plaited " a la religieuse." The scarfs were sometimes 


crossed so as to form a tunic. Many " casaques " were made 
with waistcoats. Bodices were made full, something like the old- 
fashioned bodices "alaVierge." There was quite a rage for 
knotted fringes with beads, and natural flowers for bail-dresses ; 
but double tunics were gradually abandoned, though square-cut 
bodices and " Louis XV." sleeves were still worn. 

Handkerchief-dresses, consisting entirely of Madras handker- 
chiefs, were very artistically composed. I saw one in which 
seventy-two handkerchiefs had been employed ; another, in a 
simpler style, consisted of forty-eight only. The plainest gown 
required four dozen. This was a whimsical fashion, and was 
followed only by the most elegant women of society. 

Frills and plaitings of lawn or muslin were much worn. Luxury 
was carried to a great height in " lingerie " (underclothing). The 
"Mireille" was a high chemisette of muslin and Valenciennes, 
with a double frill ; the " Yvonne " was of crape and Breton lace ; 
the " Medicis," a still more elegant chemisette; the " Lamballe," 
a fichu of surah trimmed with plaits of black or white Breton lace, 
and the " Marie Therese " of " point d'esprit " tulle with frills of 
Breton lace. 

Corset-chemises made with gussets were most favourably 
received, and were included in every wedding trousseau, as were 
also white muslin morning-gowns, which were found very 
convenient for home wear. 

The "housewife's" fan, which came out in 1879, held thread, 
scissors, and needles. Fan- holders were made of silver or of 
nickel silver, with a long or short chain, according to the taste of 
the wearer. 

Those fashionable trinkets, the lizard, the fly, and the bee, were 
laid aside, and were succeeded by an owl. This was used as a 
brooch to fasten the bonnet strings. Tags, girdles, " Diane de 
Poitiers " necklaces of very small pearls, jet in every shape, crosses 
of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and lockets of antique 
design, were very fashionable ; as were also Brittany, Normandy, 
and Vendee crosses, with religious emblems of the Sacred Heart 
or St. Michael. 



The nomenclature of the new stuffs is bewildering. There was 
" Osaka " crape, and " JEo\\a.n," a mixture of wool and silk ; there 
was honey-combed beige of two shades; " annamite " crape; 
"grene " and " Pompadour sateens " for " Louis XV." costumes; 
jaconets with satin stripes and Indian prints ; Watteau material ; 
pekins in two shades, and " Pompadour " foulards ; striped 
grenadines and Italian silk ; Turkish, Egyptian, Indian, Japanese, 
and Persian stuffs, embroidered in silk, gold beads, and even in 
precious stones and glistening colours ; and lastly, materials with the 
grotesque names of " Tchilka," " Ladakh " cloth, " Sutlej," 
"Lahore," " crepon," and " Tchinab." 

Paniers, quite unlike those of the eighteenth century, were 
composed of the material of the gown, arranged in draped folds 
on the hips, and hidden at the back by the folds of the skirt. 
They were trimmed with kiltings and lace, for evening wear, and 
sometimes even with flowers. Stamped velvet casaques, or shawl- 
pattern casaques, were frequently worn with dresses of plain 
material. We must also note " Marie Christine visites," 
"Catherine de Russie houppelandes," jackets, coats, paletot- 
jackets, and " Montespan " bodices. For walking in the country, 
the alpaca braid usually put at the edge of the skirt was some- 
times replaced by a deep band of black leather, from which a damp 
sponge and a dry cloth effectually removed all trace of mud. 

What a number of charming bows ! " Butterfly," " Figaro," 
and " Colbert " bows ; " Marion" shirt-frill bows, and "Yolande"' 
bows, in " merveilleux " satin, and cockades of lace. The " new " 
bow, consisting of surah very delicately gathered, was prettily 
trimmed with lace. And what a number of exquisite cravats! 
viz., the "Louis XIII.," the "Royal," the "Girondist," the 
"Diana," the " Soubise," and the " Haydee." 

The year 1880 opened inauspiciously in the midst of the terrible 
winter that had begun in December 1879. The fashions of 
January were consequently all for warm and thick materials, for 
furs, warmly lined shoes, india-rubber overalls, lined with stout 
flannel, that were drawn over the foot and boot, and enabled the 
wearer to brave both the snow and the subsequent thaw. The 


old-fashioned " cabriolet," or drawn-hoods, were revived ; they 
could be worn either over a bonnet or without one. They were 
generally made of otter-plush. " Mazarin " capes came into 
fashion at the same time, and even " passe-montagnes " enjoyed a 
momentary favour. 

" Pilgrim " costumes were worn : their name sufficiently 
describes them. 

Brighter weather at last succeeded to the intense frosts and fogs, 
and gracious Fashion resumed its sway, first with the "jupon 
intime," a very narrow petticoat clinging closely to the figure, 
and then with gowns of velvet and otter satin. Next came ball- 
dresses, — late in the season certainly, but appreciated all the more 
eagerly because dancing parties had for two long months been 
unusually rare. The world began to take its revenge on winter. 

Black satin was extremely fashionable ; and the " Dans " 
costume in white satin was simply exquisite. Costumes in light 
cloth or double cashmere were very popular. The list of new 
materials is completed by " Renaissance," " sublime," and " down- 
satin " (duvet), "white Astrakan down," "voile-de-veuve," and 
" brilliantine." Madras costumes were universally worn in 

The favourite colours were, lotus-blue. Van Dyck red, the shade 
called " chaudron," otter, mandragora, a sort of undecided blue- 
green called Venetian heliotrope, and others. Generally speaking, 
costumes were no longer made in one material and one shade only. 
Plum-colour, otter, Russian green, and moss-colour were mingled 
together ; and gowns were made of faille and satin, or satin and 
velvet of silk and wool, and all kinds of materials with designs. 
Cut and damasked materials, and, above all, the fashion of kilting 
withstood various efforts to abolish them. 

Jet capes were much worn ; also open " Medici " collars, partly 
turning over, and, generally speaking, very graceful. 

Large collars—" Dauphin," " King of Rome," " Colette," and 
" Incroyable " — were fashionable; also cravats, consisting of cas- 
cades of lace and very wide ribbon ; and light and delicate scarfs. 

" Vests " were much worn, both by married women and young 


ladies. The " Oriental " vest was of red-gold or olive-coloured 
tissue. They were pointed at the sides, coat-shaped at the back, 
trimmed all round with a thick cord, and fastened from top 
to bottom by artistic or shawl-patterned buttons ; lace frills were 
worn at the throat and sleeves. The " Breton " vest needs no 
description ; this was as popular as the " Oriental ;" whereas the 
" Bulgarian " costume, with its closely-fitting bodice, its skirt 
quite plain in front, open at the sides, and put into very narrow 
plaits at the back, was considered by most women too remarkable. 
The elastic, or " Jersey," bodice must also be mentioned. 

Gloves were scented with cedar of Lebanon, or Russia leather, 
or violets. This was no new invention. Perfumed gloves were 
worn in the sixteenth century. In the " Winter's Tale," Shake- 
speare tells us of "gloves as sweet as damask roses." 

Fans were painted by excellent artists. Sunshades were large, 
and, generally speaking, lined ; with long sticks and handles of 
Dresden, Sevres, or Longwy china. They were closed by means 
of a ring. 

Flowers were used in profusion both to decorate rooms, and for 
personal wear. Every one was endeavouring to make amends 
for the bitter winter. A newspaper reporter described the bride's 
bouquet at a wedding, which took place at the Trinite. It consisted 
entirely of rare and beautiful flowers, and was nearly two yards in 
circumference. A " page of honour " bearing this poetic burden, 
preceded the bride. 

The following bonnets were produced in succession ; bonnets 
with wide strings in piece-surah; " Niniche" bonnets, already des- 
cribed, and somewhat resembling a helmet in the front, " Amazon," 
"Devonshire," " Recamier," "Duchessed'Angouleme," "Olivia," 
and " Princess of Wales " hats ; " Croizette " hats ; and lastly the 
"midshipman" — a travelling-hat in straw, the same colour as that 
of the costume, and simply trimmed with a double or treble 
Alsatian bow. 

All bonnets were profusely trimmed with feathers and flowers, 
with dead-gold poppies, laburnum, tulips, gardenias, magnolias, 
and bachelor's buttons, and especially with roses of every shade. 


During the summer, "sets " for the neck of surah and foulard 
were very fashionable. Here I may specially mention the " Jean 
Bart," consisting of a widely-opened sailor collar, deep cuffs, and 
a simply-knotted neck-tie ; the " Chantilly," in ivory surah, 
trimmed with ^^.len^on point ; the " Pomponne," in plain, spotted, 
or sprigged foulard; the " naval officer" bow, in spotted foulard ; 
and the " miller's wife " fichu, in Indian muslin. 

Nordenskiold, the Swedish Navigator, and the discoverer of the 
north-east passage, came to Paris, where he was received with 
all the honours due to him. Gauze travelling veils, called 
" Nordenskiolds," two yards long, and trimmed with fringe, were 
worn in honour of the illustrious foreigner, and all but supplanted 
the " merveilleux " tulle veils spangled with gold, and the 
"odalisques," of red tulle. The latter were very striking, but 
were only becoming to dark women. 

For mountain-climbing expeditions, very fine, small-meshed 
hair-nets called " arachneens " or cobweb nets, which kept the 
hair perfectly neat, were very useful. Dust-cloaks in grey 
cashmere, or alpaca, called " capucins," were lined with red or 
striped surah, and were made with peaked hoods lined in the 
same way. 

The Art Exhibition in 1880 led to a complete revolution in 
buttons ; they were manufactured according to all the antique 
models. Those called " Buflx)n," were remarkable for elegance. 
Others consisted of real flowers, or insects enclosed in glass ; and 
lastly the "Wedgwood" buttons offered the most exquisite miniature 
paintings to our delighted gaze, i.e. copies of paintings on china 
by that celebrated English artist and manufacturer of the eighteenth 

During 1880, Fashion frequently borrowed her inspiration 
from Art, and sought to imitate the works of the old masters. 
Antique designs, stuffs, and lace of every kind, were constantly 
reproduced. More than one duchess was the image of some 
figure of the Middle Ages, more than one " bourgeoise " dressed 
herself like Margaret, in Faust, or draped her shoulders in the 
" camail Regence." In wet weather women of all ranks put on 


Ulsters, or Derbys, a cloak made of flannel, or light cloth. They 
resigned themselves to wearing hoods, when at, the sea-side or 
in the country. "Savoyard" and "Trianon" costumes were 
alternately fashionable. 

Feathers were much used on bonnets, and flowers on the bodices 
of dresses, and even on shoes and sunshades. A wreath of 
flowers was sometimes worn as a necklace by young girls. 
Canadian otter fur was in such request that the supply was 
exhausted, and plush of the same colour was used as a substitute. 

An ugly trinket, euphemistically designated a "porte-veine " 
(luck-bringer), was introduced from Austria. This represented in 
fact, St. Anthony's companion, the pig, and its rivals were the 
wild boar, the hippopotamus, and the elephant. It was hung on 
bracelets, mounted on pins, and worn on the watch-chain. For 
my own part, I should certainly have preferred the commonest 
field flower to such an ornament, even if made of diamonds. 
Nor am I singular in my opinion; but, as I have said before, op- 
position is powerless against the stream of Fashion, when it bears 
along the majority of our " elegantes," who are resolved not to be 
daunted by any absurdity. The "porte-veine" is still in 
existence, in spite of the disappearance of St. Anthony's companion. 

During the winter of 1 8 80-8 1 , handsome, and frequently historic 
costumes continued to be worn. In our engraving of one in the 
style of the Directory, the skirt and bodice are of plum-coloured 
velvet ; the second skirt is in plaited merveilleux satin, and is 
crossed by a sash of ribbed velvet, hanging down at the back. 
The bonnet, which is high in front, is trimmed with feathers. 

M. Worth has kindly supplied us with the design of this costume. 

^1^- ■ ''=4jlfciii 



I HAVE now reached the conckision of my History of Fashion. 
The present belongs to my readers, and to the " Magasin des 
Demoiselles" appertains the task of continuing my work, by keeping 
its subscribers informed of the innovations in every department of 
feminine attire in France. 

Have I fulfilled the task which I undertook .'' Have I succeeded 
in imparting some interest to the subject of my researches .'' 

I venture to hope so ; for I have ever borne in mind that the 
triviality of my subject was no bar to serious reflections on special 
points, nor to the moral value of the whole work. 

The " History of Fashion " offers to view one aspect of our own 
civilization, and I shall esteem myself fortunate if, without exceeding 
the limits of my work, I have been able to restore the curious 
details, the extraordinary garments, in a word, the varied attire of 
Frenchwomen from the most distant times to the present day, 
from the women of Gaul to our own contemporaries. 

This being said, let me now say a few words on the general 
conclusions to be drawn from the details I have given ; let me 
glance back at the path by which we have travelled. 

It is quite certain that the mode of dress, especially from the 
seventeenth century, reflects pretty accurately the ideas of the 
period during which each particular style has been in favour. 

During the Renaissance, we have seen Italian elegance introduced 
into the court of Francis I., while that of Henri II. gave an artistic 
finish to society, and removed from Frenchwomen — and con- 
sequently from Frenchmen — the last traces of that rusticity which 


had prevailed throughout the Middle Ages, and which had 
found its only exceptions in the noble ladies residing in their 
castles, who sought by boundless luxury to mark the difFerence 
between themselves and women of inferior degree. 

Under Louis XIV., Fashion ruled as a true despot, according 
to the code of etiquette. " There are no regulations in convents," 
writes Mme. de Maintenon, " so strict as those which are imposed 
upon the great by court etiquette." 

The Sun-King (Louis XIV.) regulated, with few exceptions, 
every variation in dress. Costumes of ceremony were made to 
harmonize with the drawing-rooms of Versailles. 

But when the reign of Louis XIV. was over, more freedom was 
allowed to individual taste, and the grandiose gave place to a lighter 
style. Nothing was worn but gauze, gold and brocade, mytho- 
logical negliges, white satin skirts, and refined ornaments. 

A comparative simplicity became fashionable, and ladies laid 
aside their grandest attire. 

The new style of dress suited the " roueries " of the Regent, and 
the fetes given by Mme. de Tencin and other fine ladies who 
threw open their drawing-rooms to the devotees of Fashion, and 
it was appropriate to the perfumed boudoirs of the time. 

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century we remark the 
prevalence of the loose gowns depicted by Watteau in his exquisite 
pictures. They are free, flowing, and open, something like 
dominoes. His lovely "marquises" wear flower-embroidered 
slippers without heels, and with the points turned up. Gowns 
were worn so low on the shoulders, and bosom, as to be indecent. 

Next come the excesses of a "loud" style of dress, hoops that 
are still more extravagant than the vertugadins of old time, and 
the falbala. Great ladies must dazzle, they must show the 
common folk that they possess quarterings of nobility. They 
must prove that they made millions in the Rue Quincampoix. 

Dust must be thrown in the eyes of the world, a kind of 
consideration must be obtained by display, if not merited by 
worth, talent, and ability. One sort of " dust " was hair-powder, 
which may serve as a type of the pretences of its time. 


Luxury attained fabulous proportions. Four thousand jays 
were sacrified for the trimming of one dress ; Mme. de Mategnon 
settled a life-annuity of 600 francs on her dressmaker, in payment 
for one gown. The Duchesse de Choiseul's dress surpassed any- 
thing that had ever been seen. "It was of blue satin," says 
Horace Walpole, " trimmed with marten fur, covered with gold, 
and sprinkled with diamonds. Each diamond shone from the 
centre of a silver star, set in a gold spangle." Many families 
might have lived in comfort on the cost of that costume. But who 
thinks of the poor ? Is there not the "hospital " to receive them ? 

All this display and luxury indicated the degeneracy of the 
time, and certain philosophers rebuked the fine ladies, at the risk 
of being set down as ill-tempered pedants, birds of ill-omen, and 
prophets of evil. But the " petits marquis," or fine gentlemen, 
entered the lists in defence of the " petites marquises," or fine 
ladies, who laughed at rebukes and philosophy alike. 

A reaction, the inevitable consequence of long-continued excess, 
set in at the end of the eighteenth century. 

Farthingales vanished, and scarcely a trace of powder could be 
discerned on the hair, which was no longer perfumed. The most 
elegant among Parisian women did not hesitate tcrwear flat shoes, 
as a protest against high heels. Both men and women clothed 
themselves " a la Jean-Jacques-Rousseau." 

They openly renounced affectation, and sought from Nature 
her perennial adornments, and her matchless charms. 

Then the Revolution of 1789 broke out. With a crash the 
past fell to the ground, and tastes, instincts, and manners were 
changed by an irresistible force ; no longer were the reminiscences of 
the old Monarchy evoked, but those of the Greek and Roman 
Republics, and Frenchwomen endeavoured to copy the customs of 
those two nations, and chose to dress themselves like the women 
of antiquity. 

Nor did they give up their ideas even under the First Empire. 
All the little attractions, and graces, of the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries were non-existent for our modern Cornelias, 
for the disciples of Sappho, and the imitators of Lucretia. 

u 2 


There were no original ideas ; nothing but recollections, and 
imitations, and the poorest copies. When we borrow from 
antiquity, we seldom do so successfully, there are generally 
discrepancies which destroy all the meaning of the original. 

After the fall of the First Empire at Waterloo, the fifteen 
years of the Restoration and the eighteen years of the July 
Monarchy witnessed a return to monarchical customs, and to 
ancient habits. Fashion "restored" the Middle Ages, and the 
attire of the " chatelaines," and, as we have shown. Romanticism in 
Literature and Art was exemplified in dress. 

At this period, the middle classes, after struggling against 
authority, assumed in their turn the reins of government, and 
dress was greatly influenced by "bourgeois" tastes. Romanticism 
gradually disappeared, and the prevailing fashions were entirely 
distinct from the art and literature of the period. 

Nobody can now recall the gowns with leg-of-mutton sleeves, 
without laughing, and the bonnets of the period closely resembled 
the hoods of cabriolets. 

The revolution of 1848, left no trace on the history of dress. 
But after the establishment of the second Empire, the splendour 
of the new court recalled the days of the Regency and those of 
the Directory combined. A craving for display turned the heads 
of all, and Frenchwomen became conspicuous in the eyes of 
Europe, by a succession of lavish, and unbridled whims. In rain 
did certain philosophers once again protest against such immoderate 

At length, after the disasters of 1870, a more chastened spirit 
appeared to prevail, and former follies to have passed away ; 
simplicity was aimed at, as it had been in 1780. But this calm 
was of short duration, and in a very short time new fashions and 
passing fancies were as prevalent as ever. 

In proportion as France became once more self-reliant, her 
government stable, and her finances prosperous, the love for fine 
clothes spread among women of every rank, and the International 
Exhibition of 1878, having produced the immense effect we have 
already noted, an era of cosmopolitism was inaugurated, and certain 


peculiarities of fashion were borrowed from the most distant 

This is the point we have reached, as I pen these lines. 

As the logical sequence of the above short recapitulation, let me 
again repeat that good taste must be the arbiter of dress, and that 
good taste exacts harmony in every part of the costume, secondary 
or principal. The original type of dress has not changed, and 
probably will change but little ; but its subordinate parts will 
undergo continual alteration, and will afford to future historians a 
subject of study, if at a later period they too desire to give 
Fashion its rightful place, in a picture of the manners and customs 
of France. 




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